The relationship between Hope and Exposure to Community

S. Isaacs
S. Savahl
Department of Psychology
University of the Western Cape
Cape Town
South Africa
2001 – in response to the need for more accurate
and relevant data on the state and well-being of
South Africa’s children and the absence of
effective measuring and monitoring initiatives –
key child rights researchers embarked on a range
of evidence based initiatives
Institute for Child and Family Development (UWC)
supported by UNICEF, British Council and the
National Development Agency, embarked on
project developing indicators of well-being using
child participation methodology
Project was conducted in two provinces and
included 400 child participants between the ages
of 9 – 17
Data collection followed a sustained contact
model and incorporated a skills development
component, over a 6 month period
1. Participants unanimously regarded
personal safety and security as the most
significant indicator of well-being
2. Hope emerged as the pervasive theme in
discursive activity of participants and was
regarded as an important determinant of
What have we got to look forward to? If we finish Matric, get
pregnant, get hooked on drugs…might as well start now…
(Urban Group 1)
How do we escape this… every day gang fights, drinking,
drugs, this is our life, that’s all there is for us… there’s no
hope for us… (Urban Group 7)
yes, you kind of inside you in this little umm like a box in this
thing and there’s no way out because you the only one in the
box and that’s how we feel when you constantly have to face
these things that we can’t do anything about and you the only
one there at the moment… (Urban Group 3)
of Childhood
Hope and
Well-being in
the context of
violence: A
Influence of
hope on the
exposure to
violence and
children and
of well-being
Safety and
security as a
of child
Influence of selfesteem and social
support on the
exposure to
violence and
perceptions of
Child’s life-world in many of our communities is
characterised by violence
While violence no longer has a socio-political
manifestation, it undoubtedly has a sociopolitical genesis with interpersonal, community,
domestic manifestations to a large extent
informed by Apartheid and colonial policies.
Key drivers of violence are social inequality,
poverty, unemployment, patriarchal
constructions of masculinity, substance abuse,
intergenerational cycling of violence (Seedat et al,
Between 2008 – 2009 approx 50 000
children were victims of violent crimes
Between 2009 – 2010 this figure rose
to 56 500 (SAPS)
Individuals younger than 19 yrs
accounted for 10% of all deaths
19% victims between the ages of 0 – 10
29% of all sexual abuse cases are
against children aged 0 – 10
◦ a “cognitive set involving the beliefs in one’s
capabilities to produce workable routes to goals
(the pathways component) as well as the selfrelated beliefs about initiating and sustaining
movement towards these goals (the agency
component)” (Snyder et al., 1997, p. 401)
◦ Hope is centred in the cognitive
◦ Emotions are seen as a consequence of cognitive
processes regarding goals
Gilman, Dooley and Florell (2006):
◦ The relationship among adolescent students’ level of hope
and various academic and psychological indicators of school
adjustment was investigated in a quantitative study
Low levels of hope:
irregular school attendance,
dropping out of school
academic achievement
Edwards et al. (2007)
◦ validated the children’s hope scale.
Hope correlated positively:
◦ positive affect, life satisfaction,
◦ Family/friend support and optimism.
The aim of the research study was to ascertain
adolescents’ perception of community violence
exposure and the extent to which those
perceptions influence their sense of hope
Specific Objectives
• To ascertain how adolescents understand and
give meaning to community violence.
• To determine the way in which adolescents
understand and give meaning to hope within the
context of community violence.
• Purposively selected based on specific criteria
• 14-15 years of age
• Lived in a high violence area (selected on the basis of police
• Selected from a high school within the area
• 6 males and 8 females (14 participants)
Data Collection
• 2 focus groups (3 males/4 females)
• Conducted in both English and Afrikaans
Data analysis
• Analysed by thematic analysis as Braun and Clarke (2006)
Ethical Considerations
• Voluntary participation: all participants and parents given
information letter
• Signed consent/assent forms
• Confidentiality ensured
Hope is “wishing,” “your values,” “self-esteem.”
“Something one
Linked hope to the future & motivation
would like to have
Hope is strongly connected to
religion and faith
“It motivates you
ja...passed the
negative side.”
Offer solace during challenging times
Gives one patience and endurance
Hopelessness, even in the face of adversity, served no purpose
“You’re used to it already
so if I get robbed you
don’t worry anymore
because you know
tomorrow the same thing
is going to happen
Hopelessness, was
connected to people
who commit crimes
and even suicide
Participants all had a
vision for their
future – knew their
interest in their
prospective careers
Violence in their
community seemed
to inspire them to
do better
FR: I see myself
MR: I see myself
FR: Beauty
MR: Civil
“It gives you, not
more power, but
it motivates you.
It gives you more
Age group of participants
Definition of hope needs to be
explored/expanded further
They have a socialised understanding of violence, it’s
causation, perpetuation and consequences.
Violence removes adolescents’ sense of power and control
– attempt to regain it by perpetuating violent acts
A strong connection was made between hope and
Adolescents also connected hope to the future and had a
vision for themselves in the future
Fostering a sense of hope in adolescents very important
Adolescents indicated both directly and indirectly that
their exposure to violence did not negatively affect their
vision of the future or their perceived sense of hope
Our focus is on exposure to community
violence, with the literature suggesting the
Internalising problems: PTSD, fear and
anxiety, depression, low self-esteem
Externalising problems: violent and
aggressive behaviour, sleep disturbance,
anti-social behaviour, poor academic
functioning, substance use
Social support
Social support
Quality of Family Relationships
Peer relations
Neighbourhood quality
Individual Characteristics
Is exposure to violence a predictor of child
To what extent does the construct of ‘hope’
moderate or mediate that relationship
A 3rd variable acts as a mediator when it
transforms the predictor or input variable in
some way. The 3rd variable is the mechanism
through which the predictor variable affects
the output variable
A 3rd variable acts a moderator when it affects
the direction or strength of the relationship
between the predictor and output variable. It
is also referred to as the buffering variable
Design: Pearson Product Term Regression
Sample: 568 adolescents 14-15 yrs
348 females and 218 males
Selected from 6 Schools (stratified random
sampling) in the EMDC South
◦ Kidscreen 52: Child Well-Being Scale (52 items)
◦ Recent Exposure to Violence Scale (22 items)
◦ Child Hope Scale (6 items)
Linear regression to determine if ECV
significant predictor of well-being
Result: Negative moderate but significant
relationship between ECV and child wellbeing. Increased ECV predicts a decreased
level of well-being
Pearson Product Term Regression to
determine if Hope mediates or moderates the
Hope did not significantly mediate the
Hope significantly moderated the relationship
Confirms the influence of hope as protective or
resilience factor
Hope should be seriously considered in
prevention and intervention strategies
Sense that hope could disrupt intergenerational
cycling of violence
Hope is unfortunately a volatile construct and
persistent negative engagements could erode any
positive influence
Speculation that hope interacts with other
protective factors
Multi-systemic therapeutic intervention models
Standardise Hope Scale for South African
Standardise Exposure to Violence Scale for
South African Context
Explore the nature of the pathways between
these and other variables using SEM (Partial
Least Squares)

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