Boys, girls and the making of violence in a Pinetown secondary school : a case study of gender violence.
This study explores the gendered nature of school spaces and shows how violence is produced within these spaces. The conceptualisation of space employed in this study refers to social and physical spaces. Social spaces consider school interactions such as those amongst learners, with teachers, and/or with other school authorities and how various forms of violence are produced during such interactions. On the other hand, physical spaces refer to specific places or spaces where violence is more likely to occur. The main premise of this study is that school spaces are gendered and that girls are the most vulnerable to the various forms of violence within schools spaces, both physical and social. The study was conducted at Nje Secondary School (pseudonym). The school is located in a township in the Mariannhill area in Pinetown district, KwaZulu-Natal province. A qualitative research approach was adopted within a social constructionist paradigmatic lens. Focus groups, individual interviews and observation were used to generate data. The theoretical framing of this study draws on the main ideas used to conceptualise gender violence within school spaces. The results of the study indicate that the school plays an important role in encouraging gender inequality through the gendering of school spaces. The gendered nature of school spaces serve as fertile ground for the manifestation of gender violence. Physical spaces such as the school playground, the hall ways, and behind the toilets and the walls of the school are prominent spaces where learners, especially boys, feel empowered to display their identities and power. Dominant ideologies of gender which uphold male domination of females influenced learners’ interactions in school; physical assault, verbal abuse, sexual harassment, sexual comments and heterosexual intimate partner violence are some examples of the enactments of violence cited by most girls within the social spaces in school. Based on those findings, the study concludes that gender violence within physical and social spaces in schools is a major social problem. Unfortunately, it is given less attention than it deserves. The implication of the study is that addressing the nature of such spaces is the basis for a long term solution to gender violence in schools. This study draws attention to and creates awareness of school spaces as important areas for interventions to reduce violence against girls.
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