An ecosystemic programme for dealing with vandalism at schools / Msimanga, K.I.
Msimanga, Khehla Isaac
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Vandalism is a complex phenomenon with no easy or single solution. A definition of vandalism underscores this complexity. It is defined as, inter alia, the intentional damaging or destroying of objects belonging to others, the voluntary degrading of environments with no profit motive, acts of which the results are considered as damage by the actors as well as the victim in relation to the norms that govern the situation, and the wilful or malicious destruction, injury, disfigurement, or defacement of property without the consent of the owner. Such social anti-behavioural acts are, however, both internationally and nationally spreading like a virus. Since schools are increasingly being regarded as soft targets for vandalism, which turns them into dangerous and unsafe places for teaching and learning, this study focused on a programme for dealing with vandalism in schools. The aim was to determine the effects of school vandalism on the education system, investigate the effects thereof on effective teaching and learning and to - on the basis of the findings obtained from both an in-depth literature study and empirical research design - make suggestions for an inclusive programme which schools can use to assist learners to develop responsible attitudes and behavioural patterns. An ecosystemic programme was selected as it allowed for a more holistic approach to assess vandalism, as a societal phenomenon, and to provide support/solutions to overcome such a phenomenon. Using Bronfenbrenner’s ecosystemic model of child development, in addition, enabled the researcher to examine the multiple effects and interrelatedness of vandalism, holistically in school environments. The family, community and school as environmental systems children experience during their development were, accordingly, addressed by employing a systems way of thinking. The nature and scope of the study are outlined in chapter one. Background information on the prevalence of vandalism in South African schools, which lead to the statement of the research problem, is presented.. In line herewith, the research aims and objectives are highlighted in this chapter. Within the parameters of an ecosystemic approach, the research methodology, incorporating the research paradigm, design, sampling methods as well as the data collection, analysing and interpretation strategies, are addressed. In order to redefine the research questions, chapter two consists of a discussion of the data obtained through an in-depth literature study on an ecosystemic model and theory as well as a systemic way of thinking. Whilst referring to Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model of child development, this chapter also outlines the dynamic processes of child development. Chapter three elaborates on the information set forward in chapter two, by explaining the different environmental systems children experience. By outlining their different elements and referring to the interdependence between them, the family, community and school as systems are discussed. The application of an ecosystemic theory to school and community interventions are, in addition, discussed. Within the parameters of an ecosystemic framework, acts of vandalism are scrutinized. By demonstrating the social contents and the underlying assumptions regarding school vandalism, the latter is defined and its causes, impact and effect on teaching and learning in South Africa are addressed with the aim of guiding the study in an explanatory way. After applying an ecosystemic theory to school and community interventions, chapter three also outlines the historical background and origin of vandalism, the vandal, the characteristics of vandals, specific motivational factors behind vandalism as well as the negative effects thereof. Following the latter, the causes of vandalism and possible prevention strategies are also identified. Chapter four, in addition to chapter one, deals with the research design and methodology as well as the issues of measurement in more detail. Flowing from this chapter, chapter five includes the responses obtained from the participants followed by a discussion of the findings according to the data obtained from the interviews and field notes. An interpretation of the findings is provided, recommendations are made and specific limitations of the study are, moreover, identified. The study ends with a summary of the research conducted and by presenting the final findings which, in turn, lead to proposing various recommendations
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