Perceptions of violence among learners at a coeducational secondary school in Durban.
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This study concerns the perceptions of school-based violence amongst grade nine male and female learners in a working class high school in Durban. The school's racial dynamics has seen a change from a largely Coloured population to a majority Black school population. As an educator in the school and as a member of the community in which it is located, I am aware of several instances of violence within the school and the locale. I am also aware of several incidents that have been noted by community members whereby male and female learners have retaliated violently against those male and female educators who remain reliant on physically violent methods of classroom management. Former school-based policies aimed at curbing violence within this school have proved to be unsuccessful. In drafting these policies, not only have the school's management team failed to consider learner-perceptions regarding their experiences of violence - they have also failed to recognize the gender dimensions of violence. This study attempts to fill this gap. Research data was gathered by means of a semi- structured questionnaire in the form of essays in which my research sample were requested to reflect on their recent experiences of school-based violence. The data suggests that violence is a common occurrence at the school and impacts negatively on all learners. However, there are differences in the effects of violence on male learners as compared to the female learners. Some of the violence affirmed a violent hegemonic masculinity while girls also committed violence against other girls and boys. No effective strategies exist to counter the prevalence of violence in the school. This study shows why it is necessary to focus on the gendered nature of violence in schooling.
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