An exploration of the psychosocial risk factors that lead to antisocial behaviour and delinquent group (gang) membership amongst a cohort of youth living in Wentworth, Durban, South Africa.
Clayton, Neil Warren.
MetadataShow full item record
Researchers have identified a number of risk factors that increase vulnerability amongst young people, and coerce them towards engaging in antisocial behaviour, substance use, and gang membership. Drawing from an Ecological Systems Model, these risk factors are considered across five influential domains, including (1) the individual’s personal characteristics, (2) the family, (3) the peer group, (4) the school, and (5) the community. Inherent risks within these domains include a history of family instability, poverty, living within a marginalized community, neighbourhood criminality, and the pressures experienced from delinquent peers. This thesis utilizes Interactional Theory as a lens through which to explore the bidirectional interaction of these risk factors across the five influential domains, as experienced by adolescents living in Wentworth, Durban. Q Methodology was employed as a quali-quantitative research tool to explore the perceptions of adolescents from two schools in Wentworth. This process involved holding one-hour classroom-based sessions with four different groups of adolescents who made up the sample of 117 people. In these sessions respondents engaged in a ‘Q-Sorting’ exercise, which involved comparing and arranging a series of 44 statements onto a ‘Q-Sort Matrix Board’ to reflect individual perceptions about each of the domains mentioned above. Factor Analysis was used to evaluate these Q-Sorts, which yielded five unique factors, each of which represented a cluster (or group) of similar-minded adolescents. Narrative explanations were developed to make sense of these factors. The findings revealed central themes of risk that are considered indicative and predictive of antisocial behaviour and delinquent group and/or gang affiliation amongst youth living in Wentworth. These include (1) the dominant influence of the family; (2) low socio-economic status and associated financial stress; (3) living within a marginalized community; and (4) peer influences relating to the use of illicit substances, especially cannabis and LenazineÓ (Codeine-containing cough syrup). The bidirectional interaction between these central themes indicates that when an adolescent experiences an accumulation of the effects of disadvantage from across a range of risk factors, so the likelihood of stress and insecurity increases. This increases vulnerability, and coerces adolescents towards antisocial behaviour, substance use, delinquent peer group association, and gangsterism.