The Relationship between Emotional Intelligence and Adjustment of Learners’ Violent Behaviour in Schools

By Petro van der Merwe.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

Fear and intimidation abound in South African schools. Theft, physical and sexual assault, as well as victimisation such as verbal threats, are common occurrences in our educational institutions. The school plays a central role in a child’s socialisation and it is critical that schools provide a safe environment where learning and growth can take place. It is a prime concern of our society and has become the focus of investigative journalism on television and in our news papers. Emotional Intelligence (EI) has become one of the new Human Sciences strategies. This paper suggests that EI is the missing ingredient in a social emotional intervention programme to once again provide a safe and secure place of learning, an intellectual sanctuary for our children. The chances that teenagers who cannot yet recognise or control their emotions to become involved in crime are much bigger than those of teenagers who are emotionally sound. The paper also examines the role of EI and emotion in relation to three core sociological interpretations: namely factors that cause violence (Macro-level), factors that instigate violence (Meso-level), and those that simplify it (Micro-level). It has been suggested that our education system mirrors the dynamics of our society. A better understanding of the sociological framework of violence can enable school managements to propose suitable intervention to establish a relationship between communities and parents. This research aims to investigate the relationship between EI and school management and violent behaviour of 200 grade nine learners attending a school in South Africa. The study employs an action research design and analyses using descriptive and inferential statistics to address the research objectives. The empirical study concludes that there is a correlation between EI school mangement methods and learners’ behaviour.

Keywords: Emotional Intelligence, School Violence, Emotional Competence, Emotional Intelligence Intervention, Sociological Interpretation of Violence

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.1-16. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 667.126KB).

Dr. Petro van der Merwe

Office & Project Manager/Researcher, Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, University of South Africa, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

Petro van der Merwe has been on the staff of the University of South Africa since 1988, commencing as assistant researcher at the Institute for Theological Research. In 1994, she accepted the position of Office & Project Manager in the Department Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology. Along with Prof. Gerald Pillay, among others, she was responsible for the establishment of the Centre for Peace Studies. In 2005, she obtained a BA degree (cum laude) in Health Sciences & Social Services (with specialisation in the Professional Context). She subsequently obtained an Honours degree in Psychology (with distinctions in Developmental Psychology, Therapeutic Psychology and Psychology of Work), followed by a Master’s degree in Psychology in 2009. Her thesis provides guidelines for school management teams and teachers on using Emotional Intelligence (EI). She is currently busy with her Doctor’s degree in Psychology on the relationship between adolescent violence and new electronic media technology. Petro van der Merwe is closely involved with community service projects and aids school management teams and teachers in the implementation of a school-based social-emotional programme as a strategy against crime and violence in schools. She also facilitates workshops and presents courses in using EI in school management practices. In 2009, she was approached by Capt. Dolo of the South African Police Service for support in the development of the National Action Plan for School Safety. The goal of this Plan is for school boards and the police to develop effective protocols to eliminate crime and violence in schools.