SA Journal of Education, Vol 34, No 1 (2014)

Framing of school violence in the South African printed media — (mis)information to the public

Lynette Jacobs


The way in which the media report on school violence influences public perceptions, gives rise
to particular attitudes and can influence decisions by policy makers. The more frequently an
issue is presented in a specific way, the more likely it is for readers to perceive the media’s
version as the truth. Although news is assumed to be reliable, comprehensive and unprejudiced,
journalism can be questioned. This study explores how school violence is framed in the South
African print media. A framing analysis was done of 92 articles that appeared in 21 different
public newspapers during one year. I found that the way in which the public is informed
encourages the perception of school violence as being an individual, rather than a societal,
problem and encourages the acceptance of assumptions and stereotypes. Typical ‘blood-
and-guts’ reporting is popular, while issues such as emotional and sexual violence in schools
appear largely unnoticed by journalists. I argue that the main frames provided to readers in
South African newspapers fail largely to elicit social responsibility, while at the same time
promoting civic indifference.

doi: 10.15700/201412120958

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