What young children say about violence at their school.
This is a case study about young children's discourses about violence. The young children in this study attend a school that is situated in the suburb of Newlands East, previously restricted to so-called 'Coloured' persons. The area is known for its propensity for violence, and in schools teachers have to deal with many acts of violence on a daily basis. The study is premised on two ideas: one, that from young children's discourse on violence it might be possible to access their experiences, feelings, and fears about violence in schools; and two, young children are important sources of information in trying to understand our social order. The methodology entailed one focus group discussion with a group of Grade Five students. Three boys and seven girls were selected. Selection was based on their ability to express themselves clearly and their willingness to participate voluntarily. All participants were 'Coloured'. The facilitator of the focus group discussion was a Grade Seven student; this was to ensure that the children's responses would not be influenced by the presence of an adult. The findings are organized under two subheadings: what young children say about violence and what they say causes violence. The participants indicated that the following constitute violence: teasing, swearing, name-calling, bullying, betrayals, competitiveness, fighting, jealousy, stealing, hitting, racism, homosexuality, physical abuse and sexual abuse. They have identified the following as causes of violence: teachers, friends, physical characteristics, the home, prefects, rivalry and sexuality. Emergent findings suggest that young children's discourses are markedly different to adult discourses and provide key insights when trying to understand violence in schools from a child's vantage point.