Understanding Youth Violence in Kumasi: Does Community Socialization Matter? A Cross-Sectional Study

By Barnie, Asamani Jonas; Nyarko, Ama Serwaa et al. | Urban Studies Research, Annual 2017 | Go to article overview

Understanding Youth Violence in Kumasi: Does Community Socialization Matter? A Cross-Sectional Study


Barnie, Asamani Jonas, Nyarko, Ama Serwaa, Dapaah, Jonathan Mensah, Appiah, Seth Christopher Yaw, Awuviry-Newton, Kofi, Urban Studies Research


Violence by young people is one of the most visible forms of social disorder in urban settlements. This study assesses the causes and consequences of youth violence in the Kumasi metropolis. The study design was a nonexperimental cross-sectional survey. A mixed method approach facilitated the random sampling of 71 young people in the Kumasi metropolis through a stratified procedure between December 2014 and November 2015. Ten (10) participants were purposively selected and enrolled in a focus group discussion. Descriptive statistics formed the basis for the analysis. This was supported with a matched discourse analysis of the emerging themes. More than half of the youth (39,54.9%) demonstrated history of ever engaging in violence in the past one year of whom 24 (61.5%) were without formal education. The frequency of the violence perpetuation ranged from daily engagement (3,4%) to weekly engagement in violence (12,17%). Principally, the categories of youth violence were manifested in noise making, rape, murder, stealing, drug addiction, obscene gestures, robbery, sexual abuse, and embarrassment. Peer pressure and street survival coping approaches emerged as the pivotal factors that induced youth violence. Addressing youth violence requires an integrative framework that incorporates youth perspectives, government, chiefs, and nongovernmental organizations in Ghana, and religious bodies.

1. Background

Social construction of reality and what is considered acceptable in society is critical in defining and shaping social norms, behaviors, and actions among younger generations. This to some extent defines thresholds levels beyond which communities may not be able to accommodate vices such as youth violence. Youth violence is a fact of social life. It is found in homes, wards, streets, schools, organizations, and institutions. It has received attention within academics or domains such as economics, political science, transport planning, architecture, and NGO community workers [1].

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines youth violence as the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, by the youth, against oneself, against another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation [2]. The youth is said to be a period where the individual becomes an active and responsible member of the society [3]. The definition of youth is fraught with difficulties. In one breath, it constitutes persons aged 10 to 29 years. In another breadth, it covers those aged 10-24 years as suggested by Appiah and colleagues [4] who reference Kesterton and Cabral De Mello [5].

The United Nations consider youth as a period between the ages of 15 and 24 [5]. The UN definition is however not consistent with the Ghanaian situation. In Ghana, "The National Youth Policy" classifies all persons of age 15 to 35 as youth [3, (p. 4)]. According to the Ghana 2010 Population and Housing Census, the youth are categorized into three age brackets (15-19, 20-24, and 25-35) with percentage of the total national population, respectively, as 10.6%, 9.4%, and 13.8%. Young people in Ghana cumulatively account for 33.8% of the national total population [6]. Studies on youth violence have increased our understanding of factors that predispose some populations to victimization and violence perpetration.

Ohene and others [7] report that, among researchers across the world, with particular reference to studies from Zambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Ghana, individual, family, peer, and community risk factors have been documented to account for the perpetration of youth violence [8-18]. Some studies have reported on the influence of violent communities on violent learning behaviors which manifest in later years of child's development into youthful stage [19, 20]. Such exposure to violence at an early stage causes children growing into youthful phase to potentially become violent. …

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