An exploration of school violence in Inanda Township: a case study of Mqhawe High School.
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School violence is by no means a new phenomenon in South Africa, nor is it limited to KwaZulu-Natal, as it is prevalent throughout the country (Ntuli 2015). A noteworthy requirement for learning and developing is to feel safe at all times, yet the issue of school violence in South Africa is a regrettable reality. Many different factors are root causes of violence in schools and they sometimes have catastrophic consequences for learners. In South Africa where crime and violence are rife, the drastic increase in the levels of violence in schools mirrors a complex combination of past history and current stresses on individuals, schools, and wider communities. The culture of violence has become deeply entrenched in our society and has led many to embrace violence as a means of obtaining their goals. Schools are not exempt from this scourge, and the Safety Framework Report indicates that schools have commonly applied physical interventions as part of their school safety plans. Measures include increasing police presence in schools, the installation of burglar bars on school doors and windows, hiring of security guards, and erecting walls and fences. Less importance seems to be placed on non-physical violence reduction methods which include measures such as the implementation of school safety policies and disciplinary measures, as well as other interventions targeted at transforming and managing learner behaviour. The violence that is experienced in schools has numerous negative underlying factors and these experiences at school level have a deep impact on children and on their development into adulthood. Not only are such events expected to impact a child's attachment to a school, but they lead to escalating levels of drop-out and absenteeism rates, low self-esteem and low levels of academic performance. School violence is also likely to negatively impact young people's later susceptibility to violence, and there is a strong probability that the victims and/or perpetrators if school violence will resort to serious acts of violence as they grow older. Even though South Africa has made noteworthy progress in establishing a culture of human rights among its citizens, the continuous exposure to violence has had a damaging impact on learners in most South African schools. In this context, the researcher strongly believes that it is only through the joint efforts of school authorities, parents, community leaders and government that school violence can be addressed effectively. Efforts put in by all these stakeholders must be situated within a comprehensive framework of a concentrated social crime prevention strategy that should address much of the violence that occurs outside the reach of police and that generally transpires within the home setting. The study aimed to understand the phenomenon of school violence as a manifestation of crime, and it sought to illuminate the consequences that school violence has on learners. The study was a qualitative in nature as in-depth data were verbally generated by the research participants. Twenty school learners from Mqhawe High school were interviewed by the researcher. The researcher made use of a tape recorder to record the narratives of the participants. The findings indicate that school violence impacts negatively on learners’ academic performance as well as their emotional and psychological well-being. This research was conducted at a secondary school in the Inanda Township in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. This township is notorious as one of the most violent areas in the eThekwini municipal area. Purportedly, many learners who reside in this area have developed a fear of going to school as many have been attacked on their way to school, when they were inside the school premises and even when they were on their way back home.