The headlines in both print and electronic media from South Africa are becoming more and more brutal each day. As more individuals die, the growing loops of vengeance and guilt grow harder to disentangle. Violence is typically defined as an act of aggression against persons who resist the orders of the person committing the offense. This act is therefore characterized by wild and turbulent behavior by the victim committing the offense. It may lead to serious injuries in most cases and sometimes even death. Since the early ’60s, an increased rate of violence has been reported in the country.
This increase in violence has caused the loss of several lives and loss of property among other consequences of violence. In the early days, violence had been seen as a way of addressing issues. This has done more harm than good since any violent act always leads to an increased rate of instability and less solution to the intended problem (Slavoj 89). The rate at which violence is spreading has caught both law enforcers and the public by surprise as sometimes the reason for a person being violent to another is baseless in some cases. Another thing to worry about is the way violent acts are being carried out. Acts such as beheadings and another form of body mutilation have become common these days; many people have been killed in circumstances that can be defined as inhumane as the perpetrators of such acts seem not to be in their right senses. As discussed below, there are several causes of violence, consequence, and possible solutions.
Causes of violence
There are several causes of violence in the country. The media mostly report in the news that the cause of violence is attributed to issues such as politics, land, respect, and terror campaigns. Though these makeup surface explanations, the journalists hardly ever talk about the deeper systemic causes. I suppose that part of the explanation why every person fails to talk about this topic is because they are all associated with guilt. If they expose the underlying issues, the issue tells itself back to their own political beliefs and their faith. By disregarding or rejecting the root causes, journalists avoid direct differences between the public and their own set of beliefs.
The media in most countries of the world have also portrayed violent behavior as an appropriate way of solving problems; such images make especially the youth carry violent weapons for fear of being attacked or with intentions of attacking (Kutash 78).
The economic situation is also another cause of violence, this happens especially to unemployed people, lack resources, and few support services by the government. The feeling of being hopeless contributes to a larger margin of the chances of people committing acts of crime and violent behaviors (Zenra 20).
Domestic violence is also one form of violence that affect adolescent since they are normally victims either directly or indirectly. Over the past many years, the issue of domestic violence has become common and is of concern to many individuals at all levels and walks of life. During incidences of domestic violence, some individuals have higher vulnerability compared to others in a social setting. However, is it generally known and accepted that domestic violence has detrimental effects on the family unit, at a personal level, and the society at large (Rosenberg 99). The violence affects both the children and the parents. It can result in a divorce thus dividing attention o the teenagers. When children are growing up, their requirements differ with age. Adolescence is a very sensitive stage in a person’s life. It is considered to be the point at which one can make or destroy their life completely. Some teens have witnessed abuse from their families and close community relatives. Childhood abuse and neglect have also been the major cause of violent cases later in life by the victims.
People who witness this kind of cruelty have high chances of being victims of this life frightening horrors and have a feeling of being helpless. Adolescent if brought up in a family where domestic violence is a norm is likely to be affected negatively all through their life. Physical abuse may include any action that involves the deliberate use of excessive force on anybody and in the process exposing the individuals to injuries. This is maybe by hitting, pushing, butting, pinching being forced to swallow objects that can inflict pain, or employing weapons that eventually instill pain to the victim. Sexual abuse involves forcing an individual to have undesired sexual intimacy and maybe oral, anal, vaginal intercourse and any undesirable sexual activity which is done without the desire of the victims. The assailant may force the victim to comply by excessive use of force or through the use of threatening phrases like being told if they do comply they will be set ablaze. Psychological abuse includes the use of offensive remarks, being isolated, emotional threats, and being denied economic support (Randall 112).
Other external causes of violence among the youth in the country could be from video games as research proposals and studies have brought out facts relating violent computer games/video games to violent behavior change of the individual involved. With the evolution of the software industry all over the world, software designers have been able to develop sophisticated computer games that can be installed and played on a personal computer or played online with other opponents in other distant places. These games vary from non-violent to violent games normally called virtual reality computer games. My concern in this research however is the effects of violent computer games on an individuals’ behavioral and social responsibility as a result of committing a significant amount of time to these games. As the gaming industry continues to expand, it will continue to be of concern to both parents and authorities in how violence can be mitigated. The decadence in the behavior of children has been greatly attributed to the themes portrayed in the media and the video games played by them. An example of violent behavior is how many children have been hurt physically as a result of them wrestling with each other as they see in the wrestling programs on the TV and movie screens.
Consequences of Violence
Ranging from the extreme of violence, the results of violence at all times is normally severe to the whole community and the country as well. America has witnessed the most fatal attacks by groups of especially young people who have indulged in drug abuse and dangerous form cults. Such groups often attack neighborhoods with lethal weapons and consequently cause injuries by the weapons they use on innocent people and even other members of their groups who disobey their order or threaten to abandon the group. They include new immigrants who are ignorant about their work ethics and rights while in the country. The South African system has been exposed in the media as opening up flood gates for immigrants without proper legislation so that the immigrants end up as wage slaves in the country, to the benefit of the middle-class citizens. The facts that lead to this eventuality is attributed to the language and skill limitation of new immigrants, which limits theme to finding only the jobs that can fit their skill, and in this situation, the only jobs they can perform are the low paying wage-based jobs hence leaving them poor and hence resorting to violence. This increases the rate of violence that mostly goes unreported in the country.
Moral decay and insecurity in any country are caused by violence from the public. Such repeated acts hamper the peace and security level in any setting. The normal progress of duties and nation-building is affected by acts of crime and violence. This is mainly because the economy and the overall gross domestic production (GDP) significantly drop unless the violence is contained by relevant authorities. Conclusively, there cannot be any economic progress in a violent community.
Analysis of the effect of domestic violence, notably, physical and sexual abuse on adolescents, has been renowned to cause some health problems. Family violence can dramatically influence the development of the adolescent and they are by shaping their approach towards education, relationships with other persons, and themselves too. Studies have revealed that adolescents from families characterized with a high level of physical abuse, oral abuse, and divorces normally have low esteem, engage in sex at an early age, perform poorly in school, and have a high chance of delinquency (Slavoj 92). Families with a high degree of violence in most cases end up in divorce, this calls for children to take the responsibilities of taking of other children incases where they remain with the irresponsible parent. These children suffer emotionally and sometimes become abusive due to their experience and a feeling of uncertainty in their future (Randall 112).
Domestic violence is common in all societies, the rich and poor but is prevalent among the poor who have many social problems. It is worth noting that, it is not all adolescents who experience family violence have got problems in their future. The future of the youths and persons involved is shaped by many other factors besides the family background. However, the family background plays a major role and thus cannot be ignored. This has therefore called for the analysis of the effect of family violence on the adolescent and how to control these effects.
Preferred solutions for violence
The solution of violent acts in society must originate from the core cause of the irresponsible behavior which is the community and the government. The community should provide the youth with basic needs of life including proper school and homesteads. Moreover, affection for young people should always be improved for them to feel accepted in the community (Slavoj 36). There should be a ban and eradication of alcohol and drug abuse, especially by young people. Guidance and counseling about the harm of drugs and underage alcohol consumption should be taught both at home and in school.
Fighting discrimination in form of age, gender, race, and disability will help reduce reprisal acts by the victims of such oppressive and discriminative acts (Rosenberg 54). During the post-war error, such discrimination against race and gender dominated the cause of the violence later witnessed in the early 1960s which lead to the death of activists of that time like Martin Luther King Jnr and Malcolm. Later as the community became less discriminative against race, there was a reasonable reduction of acts of violence by the victims. Cases of violent acts because of racism have been on the decline due to the efforts of rights activists. Although not completely abolished, acts of violence due to racism can be fully mitigated by initiating awareness programs in the public forum to educate the masses (Randall 120).
The state of the economy and uneven resource distribution in other states which lead to poor schools and homesteads is also a common cause of acts of violence. It is therefore the responsibility of Governors and Senators to ensure poverty eradication and even national resource distribution to avoid resultant violent acts as a result of poverty and the economic state of people who feel left out by the community. The media should also eliminate the perception that violence is the solution to problems affecting the people but rather sensitize people that violence adds to their problems and impede their development.
The media has a big role to play in the reporting of issues that currently affect the middle. The main reasons why the issues bordering on violence are not keenly attended to in the region or even positively addressed when they are approached by the media is three-fold:
- Giving the poverty tag to most people living in the region.
- The complexity of the historical issues.
- The unpopularity of these issues among the affluent in the society, who from the majority.
The media strives to portray those living below the poverty line as the less significant ‘others’ and thus effectively alienating them from the rest of the members of the society. Whether this happens consciously or unconsciously is not well established, but the underlying fact is that the media attempts to sensationalize these issues to boost sales. If this issue is not dealt with firmly, then we are going to see continued attacks and cases of social degradation. Unfortunately, the authorities and other persons have taken a back seat as the chaos continues to reign in the streets and up to our homes. Policymakers and law enforcers should be at the forefront in ensuring that a high liability is paid by offenders caught in violent acts and the people sponsoring such violence should also be made to pay for their actions. Violence is the most single brutal act that a human being can commit to another. Many cases of violence have ended up with the death of people and trauma in survivors.
In conclusion, the only outlet for discussing violence in the continent is the media. The fact that millions of people live below the poverty line and are currently being affected by the resulting violence is foreign to most of the people living outside the region and therefore very few articles on life in the region. However, the few that do are often negative to an extent that they lose their contextual meaning.
Kutash, Linda. Violence in South Africa: perspectives on murder and aggression. New York: CRC Press, 2008.
Randall, Chris. Violence: a micro-sociological theory. London: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Rosenberg, Michael. Gender and Violence in South Africa. London: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Slavoj, Žachary. The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East. Romania: Profile Books, 2009.
Zenra, Jane. Trouble in South Africa. London: Oxford Publishers, 2006.