Violence exposure in South African adolescents: Differential and cumulative effects on psychological functioning

Xincheng Sui*, Karlijn Massar, Loes T E Kessels, Priscilla S Reddy, Robert A C Ruiter, Kathy Sanders-Phillips

*Corresponding author for this work

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This study examined the associations between different types of violence victimization and psychological functioning in South African adolescents. Both differential and cumulative effects of violence were investigated. A multi-ethnic (Black, White, people of mixed heritage, and people of Indian/Asian descent) sample of adolescents in secondary schools in the Western Cape Province ( N = 1,574; boys = 46.5%, girls = 53.5%; Mage = 16 years) completed a survey on their experiences of exposure to violence (across different contexts and polyvictimization) and their levels of hopelessness, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and suicidal ideation. The results showed that indirect and direct victimization in the community, and indirect political victimization were consistent predictors for adverse psychological functioning, whereas victimization in home and school contexts did not emerge to be significant. Polyvictimization had a consistent linear effect on psychological symptoms. Interventions in South Africa should focus on addressing the psychological effects of community and political victimization on adolescents. Adopting a holistic treatment approach would be useful to gain a comprehensive understanding of adolescents' victimization experiences and maximize the impact of support to enhance their psychological functioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jul 2018


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