Perceptions regarding the role of social support in the academic achievement of adolescents exposed to violence
The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of adolescents, who have been exposed to violence, regarding the role of social support in their academic achievement. A qualitative, collective, within-site case study design was applied to obtain baseline data. The data was gathered through consecutive in-depth individual interviews with two male and six female adolescent learners (between 15 and 17 years of age) in a secondary school in Gauteng. Collages were furthermore used to assist participants with expressing their perceptions on the role that social support played in their academic achievement, despite being exposed to violence in their communities. The study was mainly informed by Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological systems theory, but in order to better understand the adolescent as an individual who functions within the ecological systems theory, Erikson’s psycho-social development theory as well as the theory of social support were integrated to understand this complex period of development. Interview data were analysed thematically, whilst shared analysis were utilised to give meaning to the visual data presented in the collages. The results indicate that encouragement to achieve, the provision of care and support to deal with problems in a proactive manner and enabling relationships with significant others facilitated academic achievement despite exposure to violence. Furthermore, positive self-talk, self-discipline and coping behaviours were identified as self-supportive behaviour that was perceived as enabling adolescents to achieve academically. The study indicates that adolescents who achieve academically despite exposure to violence, perceive social support as playing a significant role in the facilitation of academic achievement in these contexts of adversity. It is therefore recommended that significant others in the lives of adolescents should be informed about the important role that their supportive interactions play in the adolescent’s ability to maintain academic achievement. Further research could explore the viability of social support interventions in assisting adolescent learners to achieve their full academic potential, despite exposure to violence.
- Humanities