The causes of violence at schools in KwaZulu-Natal and the associated impacts on learners and teachers were investigated in research for a doctoral degree by lecturer in the School of Applied Human Sciences Dr Nomakhosi Sibisi.
Sibisi graduated from UKZN with a PhD in Criminology and Forensic Studies for her study which examined school violence – direct and indirect – from the perspective of victims in a school setting as well as those who were observers.
‘School violence has become pervasive and is on the upsurge in schools throughout South Africa, and more especially in KwaZulu-Natal,’ said Sibisi.
‘The reality is that learners carry knives and guns to school and many arrive under the influence of substances such as drugs and alcohol. Schools should have a welcoming environment where educators can teach openly and learning take place without fear of victimisation or looming danger. Learners and educators who are exposed to violence on a regular basis suffer from various adverse psychological and physical effects.’
Her study identified school-based violence with specific reference to community violence and high rates of crime as drivers of stress and fear among learners and educators. ‘Many learners in schools studied exhibited behavioural problems due to the adverse socio-economic conditions within their respective communities,’ said Sibisi.
Based on her findings, Sibisi recommends that close collaboration and partnerships between schools, the community, and the police should be forged to address alcohol and drug peddling in and around schools.
‘Parents and guardians need to be accountable for their children’s delinquent behaviour and a point of departure should be their active involvement such as attending school meetings where issues of school violence, drugs, and weapons are discussed and often resolved collaboratively,’ stated Sibisi.
‘A lot has been written about how school violence affects learners and their capability to perform well, ignoring the fact that educators are also affected by school violence.’
Her research findings revealed that ‘a school does not exist in a vacuum but is part of broader society. Schools situated in an area with a high incidence of violence are more likely to experience incidents of violence.
‘Educators suffer from a number of different psychological and physical effects due to their exposure to violence on a regular basis.’
Sibisi thanked family, friends and her supervisor for their support during her PhD journey.