Dear Queerlife SA
My name is Alexa Mostert, and I am a Masters student in the field of Psychology at the University of the Witwatersrand. I am undertaking research as part of my Masters degree as part of a larger research project headed by the principal investigator, Dr. Sherianne Kramer and would like to request your assistance.
The aim of my research is to investigate violence committed by children from the perspectives of the victims. The study thus aims to recruit victims of child perpetrators of physical and sexual violence or crime as study participants in order to give them an opportunity to tell their story in their own words. The results of the study will allow for a greater understanding of violence committed by children in South Africa and will also provide a foundation for future research in the area.
My research is titled ‘Impossible’ Crimes: Victims’ Constructions of Child-Perpetrated Crime. Violence is understood in terms of male perpetrators and female and child victims. This research aims to interrogate the cultural and social conditions that make possible forms of violence that disrupt our understandings of this apparent ‘truth’ about transgression. The study thus turns to victims of child perpetrators of physical and sexual violence or crime as targets for data collection. These configurations of the child-transgressor offer an opportunity to decipher the elements of society that have contributed to the surfacing of these ‘new’ transgressions in the psychological, legal and criminal disciplines and, in turn, the public consciousness. The critical framework lends itself to in-depth critical discourse analyses based on participants’ narratives and interviews. This process will surface those constructions and understandings that make them ‘real’ and fathomable victims in the current South African landscape. By calling into question the universality of ‘truths’ and identifying the cultural conditions of possibility for victimhood and perpetration, this research intends to demonstrate how social, contextual and political categories define, limit and demarcate possibilities for identity in violent encounters. Apparently ‘atypical’ transgressions are thus highlighted as a research priority so that they can be utilised to explore new understandings of violence and victimhood and, in turn, to support infrastructures, interventions and resources relating child-perpetrated violence.
Every potential research participant will receive an information sheet with details concerning the aim and rationale of the study, my contact details, the contact details of the principal investigator, the data gathering procedure as well as the statement that participants are free to withdraw themselves or their information from the study at any point in time or to refuse to answer any questions they choose not to. To make this possible I will provide the participants with both telephonic and mailing contact details. The information sheet also includes details about privacy regarding the fact that participant confidentiality will be upheld throughout the research documentation and all documented data will remain anonymous. Additionally, the final report and any subsequent reporting will pay special attention to anonymisation of identity. However, the participants will be made aware of possible breaches of privacy if their stories are already public knowledge or have been previously documented in the media. After participants have acquired information concerning the study they will be given the opportunity to either accept or decline the invitation to participate. Each potential participant will receive a consent form which they can choose to sign if they agree to participate in the research. Further, it will be explained that the interview transcripts will be kept in a safe place and be seen by only myself and my student research assistants. It will also be clear that there are no advantages or disadvantages in participating in the study as well as no direct benefits. The interview will last approximately two to three hours.
This research serves an important starting point in the knowledge production of victims of child perpetration. As such, I hope you will support me in proceeding with this research by attending a presentation I have prepared and thereafter assisting me with the identification of potential study participants.
Alexa Ellen Mostert
Cell: 071 163 7888
Dr. Sherianne Kramer