Learners exposure to gang violence and their participation in high-risk behaviour : a study in a Western Cape high school
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University of Cape Town
The aim of the present study is to assess the level of learners' exposure to gang violence and their participation in high-risk behaviour in and outside of a selected secondary school in the Western Cape. The study was exploratory and a self-report questionnaire - 'School Safety Survey' devised by Cornell and Loper of the Virginia University School Project, appropriately modified to fit the South African context was employed to gather qualitative and quantitative data. Disproportional stratified sampling was employed to select the initial sample of 125 learners because the race, grade and gender subgroups varied with regard to the proportion of their members appearing in the study population, but only a total ofll21earners attended school and participated in the study on the day. Even though the survey was administered to 112 learners, the researcher only retained 97 surveys that had complete data on all variables. In this study descriptive statistics are used to analyse the demographic details of the final sample population. The chi-square test was used to determine if there are significant differences in learners' exposure to gang and non-gang violence and their participation in high-risk behaviours in and outside of school. The two factors that were considered to potentially impact on the scores obtained for these categories are Grade and Gender. The survey results identified that in general, the observed frequency of learners' exposure to gang and non-gang violence was relatively higher outside of school than their exposure to gang and non-gang violence in school. Moreover, there were also no statistically significant grade and/or gender differences in learners' overall exposure to gang and non-gang violence in and/or outside of school at 95% confidence level (p = 0.05). In addition the observed frequency of learners' overall participation or endorsement of high-risk behaviour was relatively higher outside of school than in school. There were also no statistically significant grade and gender differences in learners' overall participation in high-risk behaviour in school at 95% confidence level (p=0.05) but there were significant gender differences in learner's participation in high-risk behaviour outside of school. In response to the findings a number of recommendations are made to stabilise and develop the school infrastructure, taking particular cognisance of the physical resources required for making the school a safer environment. In addition, it was proposed that educators create opportunities to develop leadership within the pupil body and introduce age-appropriate life skills and empowerment workshops to address the difficulties that these learners may experience.
Bibliography: leaves 82-87.
Erasmus, M. 2004. Learners exposure to gang violence and their participation in high-risk behaviour : a study in a Western Cape high school. University of Cape Town.