Violence in South African Schools: Trends, psychology, and amelioration




School violence, South Africa, Violence prevention, psychology of violence


School violence is a global concern (UNESCO, 2022) with prolific consequences due to its lifelong psychological impact. Violence will continue to afflict human populations due to its underlying psychology, but this can be tempered by culture and other environmental factors. Violence is part of human nature and has an evolutionary basis rooted in our biology and is expressed psychologically through behaviour, thinking, and emotional expression (Buss, 2019; Zhang-James, et al., 2018). There are many forms, including physical and sexual assault, bullying and cyberbullying, public shaming, sexual harassment, suicidality, verbal and emotional abuse, and property theft. Although violence is ubiquitous, it is distributed disproportionally, as is obvious when considering demographics such as age, race, ethnicity, geographic location, socioeconomic status, gender, and environmental disparities (e.g., pollution, noise, and access to essentials). A prime example of environmental disparities is the current crisis affecting South Africa’s electrical grid and its effects on behavior (Khumalo, 2023). These facts reveal challenges that can be addressed in order to reduce violence overall and in specific settings, and concomitantly reduce disparities and enhance social justice (Khumalo, 2019). We address these issues and provide recommendations for amelioration in the context of school violence in South Africa. While school violence is an increasing problem and challenge for all stakeholders (Le Mottee & Kelly, 2017; Ngidi & Kaye, 2022), Nelson Mandela reminds us that “We owe our children – the most vulnerable citizens in any society - a life free from violence and fear.”


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Author Biographies

Meg Milligan, Troy University, USA


Department of Psychology

Kanessa Doss, Troy University, USA

Associate Professor

Department of Psychology

Bhekuyise Zungu, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa





How to Cite

Milligan, M., Doss, K., & Zungu, B. (2024). Violence in South African Schools: Trends, psychology, and amelioration: . Perspectives in Education, 42(1), 4–22.



March 2024 Violence in South African schools Special Edition March 2024