Children's perceptions of violence : the nature, extent, and impact of their experiences : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Massey University, Hokowhitu Campus, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Perceptions of increased rates of violence worldwide have heightened the need to understand what children think about their experiences as victims or witnesses of violence. Few studies have examined violence from the viewpoint of children. The purpose of this study was to examine children's perceptions of the prevalence, incidence, and impact of violence experienced or witnessed by them and to explore the factors that might mitigate and reduce its impact. A national survey of New Zealand children, aged 9 to 13 years, with a representative sample of 2,077 children from 28 randomly selected schools of various sizes, geographic areas and socioeconomic neighbourhoods was undertaken. A questionnaire was developed for children to report the nature and extent of physical, sexual and emotional violence (including bullying) experienced within their main contexts (home and school). To assess the impact of this violence, as well as children's perceptions of school, their coping experiences, and the extent to which they used violence in their own interpersonal relationships, analyses of data comprised frequencies, bivariate correlations, t-tests, and multiple regressions. Results showed high prevalence rates of physical, emotional, and sexual violence. Comparison of the three types of violence revealed emotional violence to be the most prevalent form of violence and as having more impact on children than physical violence. Sexual violence had the most overall impact. Witnessing violence was more prevalent and, except for sexual victimisation, also had greater impact than direct violence. All types of violence involving adults were rated higher than violence involving children. The study also examined the ethical considerations and philosophy underpinning research that involves children. Guided by Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the results support the controversial ethical decision to adopt a passive consent procedure. The study demonstrated children's competence to express the ways in which violence has affected them. Conclusions are that effective development of policy and provision should be based on data that reflects children's perceptions of the violence in the context of their own lives
Children and violence, Bullying, New Zealand, Psychological aspects