The influence of exposure to community violence on adolescents' sense of hope within a disadvantaged community in Cape Town
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Violent crime has proven to have profound negative effects, particularly on those living within communities where violence is a dominant feature. The victims often tend to be adolescents, who, while striving for a better future, are often quite vulnerable to its effects. The present study addresses this important social phenomenon which faces the youth of South Africa. There is a growing need to understand the manner in which the ever-increasing exposure of adolescents living in communities which have high rates of violence affects its victims as well as determine those factors which could provide resiliency against those devastating effects. Moreover, this study focuses on adolescents’ sense of hope as a resiliency factor. The purpose of this research study was to ascertain adolescents' understanding of and the meaning they give to exposure to community violence and the extent to which that exposure affects their sense of hope. In this qualitative study, data was collected by means of two, one hour focus groups comprising a total of 14 participants, 14-15 years of age, residing in a community with high rates of violence. The format of the discussion was semi-structured and conducted in English. Various theories were used in order to better describe the information, such as the social learning theory, feminist theory and Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model, but the epistemological framework utilized was social constructionism. Ethical principles such as confidentiality and obtaining informed consent were strictly adhered to. The information received from the participants was analyzed using Braun and Clarke's (2006) thematic analysis and presented in two thematic categories with corresponding themes discussed accordingly.