Newsletter 200 - "Understanding School Violence 4"

This group of articles is a summary of a web link by the “Western Cape Education Department (WCED). (24 May 2018). Safe Schools Programme. SaferSpaces”


The Impact of School Violence 

Consequences of School Violence

''Experience and exposure to violence in any environment at a young age increase the risk of later victimisation, as well as perpetration of violence and other antisocial behaviour. Schools, if considered holistically, are environments where children not only acquire scholastic knowledge, but also where they learn to know, to be, to do and to live together. Violence in schools impacts negatively on all these processes, creating instead, a place where children learn fear and distrust, where they develop distorted perceptions of identity, self and worth, and where they acquire negative social capital, if the violence and safety-related threats are not effectively managed. Thus, school safety is a fundamental precondition for learning rather than being an addition.'' 

(Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention, 2016, p.6)

Violence in schools has short and long-term consequences for the victims as well as for the perpetrators and bystanders (UNESCO, 2017; Burton & Leoschut, 2013). School violence transforms the school environment into one of fear and anxiety (UNESCO, 2017). This hampers the educational environment and consequently prevents young people from accessing and/or fully benefiting from their educational opportunities. School violence can have physical, emotional, psycho-social, and academic repercussions. Low self-esteem, social isolation from peers and depressive symptoms can result from victimization (UNESCO, 2017; Burton & Leoschut, 2013). Depressive symptoms, in turn, may further hamper the learner’s ability to perform academically and to engage in positive social interactions (Burton & Leoschut, 2013). Following the incident/s, victims often experience decreased motivation and may struggle to concentrate at school. Learners may miss classes and sometimes even drop out of school, in order to avoid revictimization and/or because of their academic struggles (UNESCO, 2017; Burton & Leoschut, 2013). These academic repercussions, consequently negatively impact on the learners’ long term academic and career potential (UNESCO, 2017). Further, this experience of violence can increase the risk of learners subsequently engaging in crime and violence (Burton & Leoschut, 2013). With regards to bullying, bullying at schools increases the risk for the victim experiencing other forms of violence.

In addition to the psycho-social, emotional and academic consequences of school-related sexual violence, this also has particular health consequences for the victim (CALS, AVON Foundation for Women & Ford Foundation, 2014). Contact sexual offences in schools increase the risk for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, owing to its high prevalence in South Africa. Sexual offences in schools also increase the risk for unwanted pregnancies (CALS, AVON Foundation for Women & Ford Foundation, 2014; UNESCO, 2017). 

The impact of crime and violence on educators and support staff must not be overlooked (Burton & Leoschut, 2013). For example, ‘‘chronic exposure to school violence has led to the identification of the ‘battered educator syndrome’ ’’ (CJCP, 2016, p.8). Violence and crime can result in higher educator turn-over at schools, negatively impact on the ability to teach, and result in strained relationships between learners and staff (Burton & Leoschut, 2013.; Brown, Simelane  & Malan, 2016).

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