Tough childhoods produce violent men, study warns as teen killer is jailed
Sinethemba Nzima was only 16 when he killed for the first time.
His victim, 18-year-old Sinoxolo Mlunguza, was stabbed to death in Thembalethu, in the Garden Route town of George, early on October 8 2017.
Within a day, Nzima was in custody, and this month he was jailed for 10 years. But he will be back in court to be tried for another murder, allegedly committed in March 2019.
Captain Dumile Gwavu, of the Thembalethu police station, said Nzima was one of numerous adolescent boys in the township who fought each other every day.
“The students want to steal items of clothing like pants and jerseys. They want to undermine one another,” Gwavu told Times Select.
Often, the boys got carried away and someone died, he said. They typically came from low-income homes, many parented by single mothers, and may have been exposed to childhood trauma.
Behaviour of the type Gwavu described is typical among adolescents in low-income countries, according to new international research published by the Global Early Adolescent Study.
Lead researcher Robert Blum, from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US, said: “Having a greater number of adverse childhood experiences has been associated with an increased risk of many physical, mental, sexual and behavioural health problems.”
Blum’s researchers questioned 1,284 adolescents aged 10-14 years in Cape Town and 13 other locations, including China, India and Kenya.
They asked about the children’s experiences of physical neglect, sexual abuse and violent victimisation, and discovered that “boys report greater exposure than girls” to all forms of adversity...