Academic journal article Education

The Lived-Experience of Aggression in Secondary Schools in South Africa

Academic journal article Education

The Lived-Experience of Aggression in Secondary Schools in South Africa

Article excerpt


According to Planalp (1999: 1) the world is forcing its inhabitants to come to terms with emotion. One of these emotions is aggression. Aggression is an integral part of a human being in relationship with his/her self, other persons and the environment. The external manifestations of aggression, whether constructive or destructive is not the starting point of aggression. Aggression develops from childhood and continues into adulthood. In this regard Chamberlain (2000: 2-4) even states that aggression can develop from before birth. Aggression starts within the psychological world of the individual. The way in which the individual interprets his/her perceptions will elicit an emotional response that will effect the person's decision on what to do with his/her interpretation of the world. What matters is the way in which it is expressed--either constructive or destructive behavior. Aggression is expressed in a constructive manner if it is about the survival and personal and healthy growth of the individual, family, group and/or the community. Aggression is expressed in a destructive manner if it harms self and/or others and/or the environment (Tesser, 1995:383-418).

According to Kruger, Rech and Van Staden (1993: 9) aggression can be viewed as any type of behavior that is directed to harm, hurt, inflict pain or destroy another person when this person is motivated to avoid such behavior. Aggression can also be self-directed--consciously or unconsciously (self-critical, self-harm, verbal threats and assault). From literature it is clear that aggression should be viewed within a multi-dimensional perspective. Psychosocial, situational-environmental, and biological factors are all viewed as possible contributors to the manifestation of aggression. This indicates that the phenomenon of aggression is embedded within a specific psycho-socio-ecological context. Authors such as Barker (1968:1-9) and Myburgh (1981:7-8) emphasize the importance of studying human behavior and development within the psycho-socio-ecological context. This refers to the physical, social, psychological and volitional (values) environment (Myburgh, 1981:7-8).

Psycho-social factors that contribute towards aggressive behavior include inability to cope with frustration; uncomfortable livelihood; exposure to aggressive models such as violence in the media and parents with aggressive behavior; poor socio-economic circumstances especially in urbanized areas; poor family relationships; times of social stress (such as a high inflation rate and increasing divorce statistics), and rejection by peers (Pepler & Sedighdeilami, 1998: 1; Morrisen, Robertson & Harding, 1998: 217; Solomon & Serres, 1999:339-340; Mooij, 1998: 374; Debaryshe & Fryxell, 1998: 205-214; Collings, 1994: 35-37; Pulkkinen & Ramirez, 1991: 69; Krager, Rech & Van Staden, 1993: 9-10).

Situational-environmental factors that can contribute towards aggressive behavior include competitive sport; physical pain; anxiety; being in a crowd; and air and noise pollution (Smith & Furlong: 1998, 2021-202; Kruger, Rech & Van Staden, 1993: 10).

Biological factors contributing to aggression include constitutional factors (a person's temperament); genetics; hormonal oactors; neuro-anatomical factors such as neurotransmission and neuro-logical disturbances (Mooij, 1998: 374; Kruger, Rech & Van Staden, 1993: 10-11).

Currently the South African society is exposed to social stress such as high inflation rates, increasing divorce statistics, increasing suicide and increasing death rates related to AIDS. This can contribute to an increase in aggression in the society, and especially aggressive behavior by adolescents in secondary schools that are destructive in nature. Adolescents are exposed to such aggression but also expose other persons like their peers, parents, educators and school managers to aggression. …

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