Factors in Reporting Mobile Victimization in South African Schools

  • Michael KyobeEmail author
  • Shallen Lusinga


The report by UNESCO and UN Women (Global guidance on addressing school-related gender-based violence, UNESCO Publishing, New York, NY, 2016) provides extensive guidance on addressing school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV). This report makes several recommendations on how to deal with the mistreatment, bullying, psychological abuse and sexual harassment that students are experiencing at school. It also identifies safe, easily accessible and confidential reporting mechanisms as key in addressing SRGBV.

While reporting has been identified as relevant and useful in combating SRGBV, challenges in developing and maintaining mechanisms for reporting persist. Schools in particular lack systems for reporting SRGBV, and students do not trust some of the reporting mechanisms. This is not only limited to reporting traditional forms of violence. Similar challenges have been identified in cyberbullying literature. Reporting violence in schools is particularly important in a country like South Africa where the rate of crime remains the highest in the world. Understanding the circumstances under which victims decide to report (or not report) is important for effective implementation of the UNESCO and UN Women SRGBV recommendations and for the development of appropriate interventions.

Studies on crime reporting provide mechanisms for predicting reporting behaviour that are based mainly on sociological, economical or psychological models. However, focusing on one theoretical model may fail to capture the complexity of the factors influencing a victim’s decision to (or not to) report aggression. A broader theoretical perspective would allow for identification of the various motivating factors which normally do not operate exclusively. In addition, most existing studies have focused on traditional forms of violence. Victimization in schools is increasingly committed using mobile technology, which makes it imperative to examine the problem of reporting in a mobile environment. Reporting practices in a digital context may, however, differ in some aspects from reporting in a purely non-technological environment, and these may vary across cultural groupings.

The present study examines the effects of various factors on reporting mobile victimization in South African schools. It develops a theoretical framework that integrates the sociological, psychological, economic and technological theories. Based on this framework, a mobile application was developed to enable students to report incidents of mobile victimization. The mobile application is currently being tested in schools in South Africa. Preliminary findings in Cape Town suggest that while economic, psychological, cultural-sociological and technological factors influence students’ decisions to report mobile victimization, cultural and social factors appear to be more predominant. The present study also reports on the implementation of the UNESCO and UN Women recommendations by the South African government.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Information SystemsUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

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