"An exploration into children's and adolescents' perceptions of community violence"
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This study ultimately aimed to explore children' and adolescents' perceptions of exposure to community violence. More specifically, the study investigated the meanings that adolescents assign to personal safety and security and the extent to which these assignations explain child and adolescent well-being. At a methodological level, the study followed a qualitative methodological framework and collected data from 14 adolescents between the ages of 14 and 15. Two focus groups were used to collect the data which consisted of seven participants each. Participants were purposively selected from a high school located in a low income community in Cape Town. Thematic analysis was used to analyse and interpret the findings and the study was framed using Bronfenbrenner's ecological framework and the theoretical perspectives of Bulhan's theory of violence, social identity theory, psychological theories, social learning theory, and social disorganization theory. Key findings indicated that the participants were exposed to violence, both through witnessing and being subjected to it within their school, home, and community. Some children perceived a lack of safety within the environments with which they interacted. Data further indicated that exposure to violence created feelings of insecurity, such as fear and anxiety. Similarly, exposure to violence was perceived to have various detrimental effects on the well-being of a child and adolescent. These effects included injury, poor academic performance, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, fear, hopelessness, and many others. In addition to this, and based on these results, this study is significant because it taps into the realities faced by many children so that an awareness can be created and a safe space provided for these children to be children.