Risk and resiliency factors in children's lives : voices of learners at a primary school in KwaZulu-Natal.
The perspective on the social construction of childhood has dominated research on children and childhood in recent years. The aim of this study was to contribute to these debates and gain an understanding of the vulnerabilities and resiliency factors in the lives of children from a working class schooling context in KwaZulu-Natal. Twenty seven children, twelve boys and fifteen girls were interviewed using interviews, questionnaires and focus groups. Participatory research techniques including children's drawings and mind mapping were used. The children's perspectives revealed that there are various risk factors that they are exposed to which include crime, violence, bullying, racism from teachers, gender stereotyping, child abuse, pollution, HIV/Aids, alcohol and drug abuse. Concerns that children have about their future include possible unemployment of their parents, the rising cost of schooling and contracting HIV/ Aids. Despite this, the children identified various resiliency factors in their lives such as grand parents, good neighbours, caring teachers and a comprehensive school programme that includes sport. A common theme across participants in this study was religion as an identifying and resiliency factor in their lives. The findings stress the need for schools to address exclusionary pressures that impact on the well-being of children in this schooling context.