• James Robinson

Exposure to Socio-economic Disadvantage and Violence as Contributing Factors to Low Academic Achieve

* This is an original submission as part of my doctoral program in International Education. It is not in APA format as a Blog post and is part of my early coursework. It does not represent my progression as an academic writer.

Exposure to Socio-economic Disadvantage and Violence as Contributing Factors to Low Academic Achievement in South Africa

The history of South Africa consists of periods of conflict including European colonization, Apartheid, and years of struggle for racial equality which ended the institutionalized political oppression of the majority of South Africans and resulted in the current post-Apartheid era.  This history of violence has created what might today be called a culture of violence.  (Vaughn, 2016, p.223)   This culture of violence and problems from socio-economic disadvantage place youth at risk of significant societal challenges which negatively impact their academic success.  More research is needed concerning poly-victimization and educational success because as of 2018, there was only one study which examined the relationship between low academic performance and problems associated with youth victimization from multiple sources.  (Romeo, Cluver, 2018, p.4)  

Socio-economic disadvantage in the form of poverty is found mostly among the Black population in rural areas.  In these communities, poverty contributes to poor control of youth by their parents, broken families, and gang involvement.  Poverty and the pervasive inequality which are present in the lives of Blacks living in South Africa contribute to social conditions which are conducive to the development and continuation of systemic violence.  (Tugli et al., 2014, p.48) 

The prevalence of violence in impoverished communities exposes youth to victimization from multiple sources within their schools, communities, and families.  When youth attend school, these factors place the students at high risk for low academic achievement, and in other cases, they contribute to the exclusion of youth from educational opportunities.  (Romeo, Cluver, 2018, p.4)  

Socio-economic challenges facing families contribute to the risk of youth being victims and perpetrators of violence while at school.  School violence contributes to large numbers of youth not completing their primary or secondary education. (Tugli et al., 2014, p. 48) 


 Socio-economic disadvantage contributes to pervasive violence against youth in South Africa.  The negative impacts of this violence are far-reaching and extend throughout society.  Social conditions associated with poverty expose youth to multiple forms of violence.  They are victimized while at school, within their families, and in their communities. Poverty and violence place youth at risk of low academic achievement and contribute to high rates of youth exclusion from educational opportunities.  This paper examines the connections between socio-economic disadvantage, violence, and low academic achievement and how their combined influence negatively affects youth in South Africa.  


De Wet, N., Somefun, O., & Rambau, N. (2018). Perceptions of community safety and social activity participation among youth in South Africa. PLoS ONE, 13(5), 1-11. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0197549

Herrero Romero, R., Hall, J., & Cluver, L. (2019). Exposure to violence, teacher support, and school delay amongst adolescents in South Africa. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 89(1), 1-21. doi:10.1111/bjep.12212

John, V. M. (2016). Using conflict mapping to foster peace-related learning and change in schools. Education as Change, 20(2), 221-242. Retrieved from http://proxy1.ncu.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1122070&site=eds-live http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/1947-9417/2016/756

Lamb, S., & Snodgrass, L. (2017). A nonviolent pedagogical approach for life orientation teacher development: The alternatives to violence project. Educational Research for Social Change, 6(2), 1-15. doi:10.17159/2221-4070/2017/v6i2a1

TUGLI, A. K., TSHITANGANO, T. G., RAMATHUBA, D. U., AKINSOLA, H. A., AMOSU, A. M., MABUNDA, J., . . . ONI, H. T. (2014). Socio-economic backgrounds of learners attending violence prone rural secondary schools in Vhembe district, South Africa. African Journal for Physical, Health Education, Recreation & Dance, 1, 40-50. Retrieved from http://proxy1.ncu.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=s3h&AN=116902906&site=eds-live

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