Original Articles

Threats to Enabling Contexts: Exploring Adolescents' Experiences of Aggression

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 17, issue 1-2, 2007 , pages: 29–38
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2007.10820141
Author(s): Quintin LudickNorth-West University,, Vera RoosNorth-West University,


This article explores adolescents' experiences of aggression in a secondary, multi-cultural school context in South Africa. The study group comprised of boys (n=24) and girls (n=17), attending grades 8–12. An inductive qualitative research approach was chosen where participants wrote about their experiences and participated in focused semi-structured interviews. Central themes were derived by means of a thematic content analysis. The results revealed that adolescents experienced negative feelings about aggression at school and that aggression was related to individual characteristics, the adolescent developmental stage, socialization, status, competition, home environment, prior experiences, learnt behaviour and the effect of the media and music. Exposure to aggression had emotional consequences such as feelings of anger, fear, depression, being controlled and a loss of self-content. Behavioural responses included retaliation, pacifism, vandalism and suicide. The findings suggest that learner involvement, conflict resolution skills and school guidance are necessary to manage aggression in the secondary school context.

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