Exploring adolescents’ perceptions of the influence of substance abuse on community violence within a Cape flats community
MetadataShow full item record
Community violence and substance abuse are equally omnipresent social problems that are characteristic of South African communities. The pervasive nature of these social ills is evident in the astonishingly high prevalence rates in South Africa, where substance-related violence affects the lives of many, especially youth, due to its deleterious effects. The aim of the study was to explore adolescents' perceptions of substance abuse as a contributing factor to community violence using Goldstein’s tripartite conceptual framework of substance abuse and violence. A qualitative methodological framework was employed. Purposive sampling was used to select the participants, 16 grade ten learners (male and female) attending a high school within an impoverished Cape Flats community. Two focus groups with eight participants each were conducted. Theoretical thematic analysis was used to analyse and interpret information. Four thematic categories were identified from the data namely: adolescents’ perspective on the dynamics of community violence, perceptions of the psychopharmacological influence of substances and violent tendencies, satisfying their needs: substance abusers’ criminality, and substance distribution and violent patterns of interaction and trade. The findings indicate that substance intoxication induces changes in behaviour and psychological processes, making individuals aggressive and violent. Participants believed that substance abusers frequently commit property and violent interpersonal crimes such as theft, robbery, assault, murder and prostitution to obtain substances. Substance distribution was linked to gang violence as a profession for gang members. Furthermore, findings show that systemic violence stems primarily from gang involvement as well as sharing the markets in the substance industry, resulting in rivalry for territory and clients. The current study broadens our understanding of ‘substance abuse-violence’ nexus by providing qualitative information on Goldstein’s (1985) tripartite ii conceptual framework in a South African context. As such, the findings could inform prevention and intervention strategies for both violence exposure and substance abuse. It is especially important because it explores the different dimensions of substance-related violence perceived by a group of adolescents within a Cape Flats community.