Pauline Mawson, Clinical Psychologist

Tel: 011 894 8216/011 898 6540
Fax: 086 573 3370
Pr: 0341304

Medicross Clinic
Cnr Trichardt & Northrand Road

Pauline Mawson - Book

Statistics obtained from both South Africa and the United States of America indicate that the phenomenon of violence amongst youths is increasing. Similarly, the number of adolescents being convicted of and detained for violent crimes such as assault is also on the increase. This implies that a larger number of youths are being exposed to the experience of violence and present with the complex and multi-dimensional effects of such an experience. Past research has centered mostly on the causative factors that can be statistically represented, with little focus being paid to the juveniles' in-depth, subjective experience of the phenomenon. For the male adolescent, the experience of the phenomenon of violence is complex, diverse and may span across many aspects of his life, namely the physical, psychological, personal and social dimensions. In an attempt to address the shortcomings of past research, this study attempts to capture the unique experience of violence as it is experienced by the male juvenile who has been convicted of a violent crime, namely assault. The phenomenological approach to research has been specifically selected to enable the researcher to achieve this. Three participants were sourced from the Leeuwkop Juvenile Correctional Facility in Johannesburg and interviewed for the purpose of this study. The participants were selected according to their age (between 13 and 19 years of age) and type of crime that they had committed (either assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, common assault or indecent assault). A biographical interview was first completed with each participant in order to obtain necessary background information. In staying with the phenomenological approach, open-ended interviews were used with the participants in order to allow for the participants' unique and subjective experience of the phenomenon to emerge. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and non-verbal behaviour was included where appropriate. The transcripts comprise the raw data of this study and they were analysed within a phenomenological framework, which allowed for the natural themes of the phenomenon to emerge.

Furthermore, the findings of the research were integrated and commonalities in themes were sought that would provide the essence of the phenomenon. In order to validate the findings of this research the themes were compared with the relevant literature. The phenomenon of violence would appear to be characterised by the juveniles' experience of external events that would appear to provoke a certain response manifesting itself in violent behaviour. These responses were mostly emotional in nature and included emotions such as anger and rage and fury. Emotions were also elicited after the violent act had taken place and these were characterised by uncertainty, anger directed towards the self as well as fear. The use and misuse of substances such as alcohol and drugs would also appear to have been part of the experience of violence for the male offender. Furthermore, the experience of violence holds certain consequences for the male juvenile offender. The most common consequence experienced by all three participants was their subsequent arrest and incarceration in a Correctional Facility. A positive consequence of incarceration was that the offenders were exposed to social workers and psychologists that enabled them to learn coping mechanisms to contain any future violent thoughts, feelings and behaviours. The value of this research can be found in the above-mentioned motivation for such a study to be conducted. Very little literature exists on the subjective experience of violence for the male juvenile offender, as most of the literature available is quantitative in nature. Additionally, this study will add value to the limited amount of research available in South Africa.