Dear Diary: Social exclusion really hurts . . .


Every human being wants to matter. Exclusion creates self-doubt and affects the quality of work produced.

Have you ever been rejected or socially excluded at some point in your life? Do remember how you felt when that happened? Lousy wasn’t it?

Social exclusion results in anger, depression, withdrawal and vindictive behaviour. Tangible threats to socially mediated pain are: being excluded, being disrespected, being embarrassed, being undermined and being overlooked or unfairly treated.

In South Africa a large part of our population has suffered social rejection/exclusion through apartheid as a result of the colour of their skin. Many of these people have become murderers and rapists which leaves us with the question: why? Why do they behave the way they do?

What are the reasons for someone to punch, kick, stab or fire a gun at someone else or even him/herself? Why do some men deliberately seek out women and children to brutally rape and/or murder?

Expression: Some people use violence as a mechanism to release feelings of anger or frustration. They believe there are no answers to their problems and turn to violence to express their emotions which are out of control.

Manipulation: Violence is used as a way to control others or get something they want.

Retaliation: Violence is used to retaliate against those who have hurt them or someone they care about.

Violence is a learned behaviour: Like all learned behaviours, it can be changed. This is not easy because there is no single cause of violence – there is not one simple solution. The best we can do is learn to recognise the warning signs of violence and to get help when you see them in others or in yourself.

Warning signs of youth violence:
People who act violently usually . . .
• Have trouble controlling their feelings
• May have been hurt by others
• Think that making people fear them through violence or threats of violence will solve their problems or earn them respect. Some violence occurs as a response to prolonged hurt, trauma, bullying or victimisation. People may use violence to get something, while others may act out of self-protection or desperation. People who behave violently lose respect. They eventually find themselves isolated or disliked, and they still feel angry and frustrated.

Anger itself is not always a sign that violence is imminent. While anger may be a warning sign of violence, it must be put in context. In fact, by assuming that anger or increased substance abuse will always lead to violence means that many non-violent people who are in need of help become unfairly characterized as violent. What is most important to look at is if there are “new” signs and significant changes in behavior.

The presence of some of the signs or factors listed below should alert us to the possibility that an individual may be at risk of violence. It should be noted, however, that the presence of one or more signs or factors does not necessarily mean that the person will be violent.

Some signs of potential for violence may be historical or static (unchangeable) factors like:
• A history of violent or aggressive behavior
• Young age at first violent incident
• Having been a victim of bullying
• History of discipline problems or frequent conflicts with authority
• Early childhood abuse or neglect
• Having witnessed violence at home
• Family or parent condones use of violence
• A history of cruelty to animals
• Having a major mental illness
• Being callous or lacking empathy for others
• History of vandalism or property damage

Other signs of potential violence may be present over time and may escalate or contribute to the risk of violence given a certain event or activity. These might include:
• Serious drug or alcohol use
• Gang membership or strong desire to be in a gang
• Access to or fascination with weapons, especially guns
• Trouble controlling feelings like anger
• Withdrawal from friends and usual activities
• Regularly feeling rejected or alone
• Feeling constantly disrespected

Some signs of potential violence may be new or active signs. They might look like:
• Increased loss of temper
• Frequent physical fighting
• Increased use of alcohol or drugs
• Increased risk-taking behavior
• Declining school performance
• Acute episode of major mental illness
• Planning how to commit acts of violence
• Announcing threats or plans for hurting others
• Obtaining or carrying a weapon

The pain of social rejection:
Reasons for violence:

Having said all this, how does this relate to perpetrators of crimes like: Alison Botha, Valencia Farmer, Anene Booysen, Reeva Steenkamp and others? What went wrong in the lives of the perpetrators of these crimes to make them do what they did?

The major causes of Criminality:
What is the source of our ideas, schemes, anger, greed, lust, passion, jealousy?

• Lack of hope?
• A mixture of biological dispositions and environmental influences?
• Living in communities and regulating social behaviour?
• Overt behavioural causes (surface behaviour) of crime: Lust, greed, ego, passion and jealousy? Are these controllable?
• Covert behavioural causes: ideas, motivations, schemes, urges, passions, aversions, revulsions, thoughts and desires?
• Inability to conform, the amount of life stressors we experience, the availability of criminal outlets, biological dispositions toward impulsiveness and neurotransmitter dis-regulation, the specific demands that are imposed on individuals (based on what society they live in, what their social standing is, and how they perceive their roles)?
• Nature and nurture i.e. we are a product of our genetics, upbringing and culture?
• Our biology and attitude (culture)?
• The lack of learning the benefits of delayed gratification?

Overt behaviour is what can be observed by us and others
Covert behaviour (private behaviour) is what is observed by the individual alone (like his thinking process) but, who is thinking and who is observing?

How would you answer these questions?

What, in your view, are the solutions?

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