The relationship between School Climate, Culture and Violence
The relationship between School Climate, Culture and Violence Abstract
Media coverage in South Africa is increasingly reporting incidences of school violence in different forms. A study conducted by the Department of Education and the Center for Justice and Crime Prevention in 2008 reavelaed that high Schools in Gauteng have the highest rate of school-violence in South Africa (Pretoria News, 2008). The rate of extreme school violence throughout the country appears to be increasing at an alarming rate and a cause for major concern. According to the study “Merchants, Skollies and Stones” by ...view middle of the document...
Violence, School-Violence, School Culture, School Climate, Qualitative Research, focus groups Page 3
Background, Rationale and Statement of the Problem
Media in South Africa reports on all forms of violence on an almost daily basis. Violence has a profound negative effect on individuals of all ages, races & cultural backgrounds and occurs in various contexts. There has been a dramatic increase in violence not only between learners on each other but also by Leaners on Educators and vice versa. According to the South African Institute for Race Relations, South African Schools are becoming the most dangerous place in the world and only 23% of pupils reported feeling safe at school (SSAIR 2008). The launch of the 2008 Human Rights Commission report on the Hearings into School-based violence highlighted the violent experiences of children in schools throughout South Africa.
A study on school violence involving 12 794 leaners from primary and secondary schools, 264 principals and 521 educators conducted by the centre for Center for Justice and Crime Prevention revealed that 15.3% of children at primary and secondary schools have experienced some form of violence while at school. More than four fifths of the principals interviewed during the study reported incidents of physical violence perpetrated by learners on fellow learners (The South African National Schools Violence Study, South African Journal of Education, Volume 32, 2012). Violence in South African schools is becoming a critical problem and if the problem is not addressed, it could have a very negative influence on the education and training of many learners.
Researchers have found that a positive school culture and a school climate are important dimensions that can be linked to effective advancement of teaching and learning (Cohen & Pickerall, 2007; Najaka, Gottfredson & Wilson, 2002). According to the above writers, if violence occurs at schools and is not addressed, it can destroy the school culture and school climate, as well as diminish the protective influence of the school. Both school culture and school climate play a big role in the atmosphere at a school and could influence the circumstances at a school in different ways. A positive school culture and climate plays a major role in attempting to reduce violence within schools and Government needs to work much harder at implementing strategies in this direction as it is clear the problem will not just disappear. Page 4
Although the issue of violence is a government priority, it is evident that there is a need for more research in this field. Comprehensive research about learners’ and educators’ perceptions and experiences relating to school violence is very scarce and various studies have recommended that qualitative research be conducted in this regard as qualitative studies will aim to explore how learners and educators make sense of this ever increasing threat of violence which is breeding more and...