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Effects of violence on Childrens mental health.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

CONTENT Page PLAGIARISM DOCUMENT ............................................................... 2 INTRODUCTION ............................................................................ 3 PROVIDING PARAMETERS ..............................................................3 EFFECTS OF VIOLENCE ON CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH .................7 CONCLUSION ............................................................................... 11 REFERENCES .................................................................................13 PLAGIARISM DOCUMENT WE DECLARE THAT THIS ASSIGNMENT IS OUR OWN WORK AND THAT ALL SOURCES HAVE BEEN CITED NAME: .......................................................... STUDENT NO. ........................ NAME: .......................................................... STUDENT NO. ........................ NAME: .......................................................... STUDENT NO. ........................ SIGNED: ................................................................................................................... ................................................................................................................... ................................................................................................................... INTRODUCTION Violence as a national problem in South Africa needs little introduction. South African citizens are exposed to daily, sensationalised reports of violence in the media, emphasising this problem's national and international pervasiveness. However, little emphasis is laid on the negative impacts and consequences of direct and indirect exposure to violence on South Africa's children, constituting a population at risk, well documented by research. " In South Africa, the exposure of young people to violence has reached epidemic proportions with an alarmingly high proportion of the youth having to face daily crises alone and without support." (Matthews, Griggs & Caine, 1999, p.28). Children are regarded as one of the most neglected and overtly oppressed sectors of South African society (Lockhat & van Niekerk, 2000, p. 290), as well as the most vulnerable, intentionally targeted sector. (Nair, Robertson & Allwood). Violence has infiltrated various spheres of South African society, having become a systemic part of family, school and community structures, in which children find themselves living in a "conflict ridden culture", whether it is at an intra-personal, inter-personal, inter-group, or a broader societal level. (Dovey, 1996, p. 128). This essay serves as an exploration, through means of a literature review and interviews, of what the negative effects are of direct and indirect exposure to violence, on South African children's' mental health. PROVIDING PARAMETERS Before any serious discussion of the negative impacts of violence on South African children's mental health is possible, it is necessary that the researcher provide clear definitions of research terms such as exposure to violence and mental health, as well as establishing an understanding of the developmental stage and experiences of children, in the diverse South African context. ...read more.

Middle

2,694 3,499 3,805 3,633 3,755 Other 753 833 944 1,432 1,526 TOTALS 23,664 28,482 35,838 35,867 37,352 Lack of police statistics makes the estimation of the prevalence of gender violence in South Africa impossible, however, it is clear is that South African girls, are disproportionately likely to be victims of such violence. "The [South African Humans Rights Commission's Report on Sexual Offences against Children, released in April 2002] shows that by the age of 18, 20% of females and 13% of males reported having suffered some form of sexual violence, which amounts to almost a third of the young population." (Ross, 2003, p. 123). EFFECTS OF VIOLENCE ON CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH The impact of violence on children's mental health depends on various factors: the level of exposure; the child's age and developmental phase; the family and community context in which the violence occurs; and the availability of family and/or community support. "Children may respond differently to trauma depending on their ability to understand and deal with the traumatic event in their life." (van Niekerk, 2002). "Clinical research suggests that ... as many as one out of every five persons, is suffering from violent related mental health problems. These problems range from post traumatic stress disorder through anxiety and depressive disorders to exacerbation and precipitation of Schizophrenic or Bipolar breakdowns." (Nair, Robertson & Allwood). The South African context is unique and made further complex, since it harbours the social problems engendered as a result of the insidious Apartheid regime and experience. Studies suggest that direct experience or exposure to violence has more of an impact on children than indirect experience. "The impact of violence is probably most profound when children are victims." (Friday, 1995, p.403). "Research done with victims of violence shows that 60-80% (or more) of people exposed to violent situations, whether directly or indirectly, suffer from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder." (Stavrou, 2003). ...read more.

Conclusion

According to Erikson's theory, the social environment determines whether the crisis associated with any given stage is resolved positively or not. (Hergenhahn & Olson, 1999, p.166). CONCLUSION In South Africa it is evident that only a small fraction of the people in serious need of mental health services are treated. "The snowball effect of the lack of treatment for these victims exponentially increases the need of services." (Seedat, Duncan & Lazarus, 2003, p. 100). This essay has served as an exploration of general, relatively immediate negative impacts of children's exposure to violence on mental health in the South African context, however, in light of the complexity of the problem, a need exists to focus on "how children's exposure to violence... influence their ability to experience and modulate states of emotional arousal, their images of themselves, their beliefs in a just and benevolent world, their beliefs about their likelihood of surviving into adulthood, their sense of mortality and the value they place on human life." (Govender & Kilian, 2001, p. 10). These issues are important in terms of establishing a holistic, coherent understanding of the experiences and consequences children face as a result of being exposed to violence, whether it is direct or indirect. Children are complex beings and thus, their reactions to exposure to violence are complex and varied. The "relationship between exposure to violence and its effects is not linear but rather a complex and dynamic one within a stress system." (Govender & Killian, 2001, p. 2). There is no simple solution to the pervasive problem of children's mental health being negatively affected by exposure to violence in South Africa. However, by broadening the boundaries of research and following a more holistic approach in terms of therapeutic treatment of the various effects of violent exposure on victims, a greater understanding of children's experiences will be established, as well as creating new opportunities for future treatment and well-being of South Africa's children. ...read more.

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