SA Journal of Education, Vol 42, No 2 (2022)

Reducing school violence: A peace education project in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Lucia Zithobile Ngidi, Sylvia Blanche Kaye


Violence occurring in South African schools takes various forms and is a concern for all stakeholders. All forms of violence have negative effects, i.e. physical and psychological, educational damage and societal breakdown. The overall aim of the study reported on here was to explore the nature, causes and consequences of school violence, and then to design an effective intervention strategy to reduce it. In this study we used action research methodology in which stakeholders were empowered to interrupt the occurrence of violence, stop the spread of violence and change group/community norms regarding violence. This strategy of violence reduction was tested at 1 school in Umlazi, in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, in 4 stages: initial data collection, formation of an action team, design and implementation of a strategy, and evaluation of its efficacy. The action team was composed of teachers, community members, parents and learners who developed a strategy entitled, We Care (WC). Initial from both schools data showed that schools were unsafe, with school violence caused by substance abuse, theft, vandalism, physical violence, religious discrimination, sexual violence, cyber bullying, gender-based violence and gambling. WC clustered abnormal behaviour patterns demonstrated by learners into categories: violent cases and behavioural indicators of physical, sexual, alcohol and drug abuse. WC assisted high risk learners who had decided to act non violently, help victims and assist parents and community members who perpetrated violence. A preliminary evaluation was conducted 1 year later and WC reported that they had developed capacity to assist with these categories of violence, leading to a reduction in violent behaviour at the school.

ORCiD iDs of authors:
Lucia Zithobile Ngidi -
Sylvia Blanche Kaye -

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