Sexual violence and youth in South Africa: the need for community-based prevention interventions

SOURCE: Child Abuse & Neglect
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2005
TITLE AUTHOR(S): I.Petersen, A.Bhana, M.McKay
KEYWORDS: COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION, SEXUAL BEHAVIOUR, VIOLENT BEHAVIOUR, YOUTH
DEPARTMENT: Human and Social Development (HSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 4135

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Abstract

South Africa is reported to have one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the world, with adolescent girls between the ages of 12 and 17 being particularly at risk. Given that adolescence is considered a critical developmental period for establishing normative sexual behavior, this study explored multiple levels of risk influences that render adolescent girls vulnerable to becoming victims of sexual violence and adolescent boys vulnerable to becoming perpetrators of such abuse in one South African community. A case study approach using qualitative rapid focused ethnographic methods was used. This involved 10 focus group interviews and 10 individual interviews with a volunteer convenience sample of adolescent boys and girls between the ages of 14 and 16 years. Inductive thematic analysis revealed that there were indeed multiple levels of risk influences for adolescent girls and boys becoming either victims or perpetrators of sexual violence. Using the Theory of Triadic Influence as a framework, influences at the distal socio-cultural/environmental level included traditional notions of masculinity and normalization of inter-personal violence as well as poverty and the commodification of sex leading to rape supportive attitudes. Influences at the proximal situation context/social normative level included high-risk social norms as well as a weak adult and community protective shield. Finally, influences at the intra-personal level included low self-esteem and self-efficacy as well as inter-personal affective anger.