A comparative study of fears in middle-childhood South African children with and without visual impairments

Bensch, Lisa S. (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2010-03)

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The experience of fear is a normal phenomenon in the development of children. However, the often marginalised population of children with visual impairments, is one which has been neglected in past fear research. As far as could be ascertained, no research assessing the fears of children with visual impairments has been carried out the past 18 years, and studies within the South African context are non-existent. Previous research has suggested that children, who have a physical disability, are more prone to the development of a psychopathology than their non-disabled peers. It has also been suggested that, due to their physical limitations, children with visual impairments would express a higher prevalence of anxiety and fear. Therefore it is important to identify these children's fears, to enable those involved in their day-to-day lives to gain a greater understanding of their emotional world. The present study aimed to determine whether significant differences exist between the fear profiles of middle-childhood South African children with visual impairments when compared to their sighted counterparts. A differential research design was employed, and results were examined across the four independent variables of gender, age, culture, and vision. A total of 129 assenting children from three schools in the Western Cape participated in the present study, including 67 children with varying degrees of visual impairments, and 62 gender- and age-matched controls. All the children were administered a short biographical questionnaire and Burkhardt's (2007) child friendly South African Fear Survey Schedule for Children (FSSC-SA). The administration of these measures was adapted according to the children's degree of visual impairment. Results of the FSSC-SA indicated that the most feared item for the children with visual impairments was “Fire - getting burned”, while the children without visual impairments feared “Getting HIV” the most. The 10 most common fears related mainly to situations in which the possibility of danger and harm is present, with the majority of fears loading onto Factor I (fear of danger and death) of the FSSC-SA. Consistent with previous research, gender differences were apparent across number, level, and pattern of fear, with girls consistently being more fearful than boys. There was no significant relationship between age or culture and self-reported fear. In terms of the three sub-groups of visually impaired children, the children with severe visual impairment reported the highest number and level of fear. However, in general terms, the fear profiles of the two overall groups (children with and children without visual impairments) did not differ significantly, thus showing that the worlds, in which these children live, are not as different as was originally anticipated. In conclusion the present study's contributions as well as shortcomings are discussed, along with recommendations for future research.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Vrees is 'n normale ervaring tydens die ontwikkeling van kinders, alhoewel die gemarginaliseerde populasie van kinders met visuele gestremdhede een is wat dikwels in navorsing oor vrees afgeskeep is. So ver as wat die navorser kon vasstel, is geen studies oor hierdie populasie die afgelope 18 jaar uitgevoer nie, en studies binne die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks bestaan glad nie. Vorige navorsing stel voor dat kinders met gestremdhede meer geneig is tot die ontwikkeling van psigopatologie as kinders sonder 'n gestremdheid in hul portuurgroep. Daar is ook voorgestel dat kinders met visuele gestremdhede as gevolg van hul fisieke beperkinge meer vrees en angs sal toon. Dit is dus belangrik om hierdie kinders se vrese te identifiseer, sodat die mense wat by hul alledaagse lewe betrokke is, 'n beter begrip vir hul emosionele wêreld kan hê. Die doel van die onderhawige studie was om vas te stel of daar beduidende verskille tussen die vreesprofiele van middelkinderjare-kinders met visuele gestremdhede bestaan in vergelyking met hul siende portuurs. Die studie het 'n differensiële navorsingsontwerp gevolg, en die resultate is bestudeer aan die hand van vier onafhanklike veranderlikes, naamlik geslag, ouderdom, kultuur en visie. 'n Totaal van 129 instemmende kinders van drie skole in die Wes-Kaap het deelgeneem aan die onderhawige studie. Die steekproef het 67 kinders met verskillende vlakke van visuele gestremdheid ingesluit, sowel as 62 kinders van vergelykbare ouderdom en geslag in die kontrolegroep. Die deelnemers moes 'n kort biografiese vraelys invul, sowel as Burkhardt (2007) se kindervriendelike Suid-Afrikaanse Vreesopnameskedule vir Kinders (FSSC-SA). Die toepassing van die meetinstrumente is aangepas volgens die kinders se graad van visuele gestremdheid. Resultate van die FSSC-SA het getoon dat kinders met visuele gestremdhede die meeste vrees getoon het vir “Vuur - om te verbrand”, terwyl die mees gevreesde item vir die kinders sonder visuele gestremdhede, die vrees “Om MIV op te doen” was. Die 10 algemeenste vrese het veral verband gehou met situasies waar daar 'n moontlikheid bestaan van gevaar of seerkry, en die meeste van hierdie items het meestal op Faktor I (vrees vir gevaar en die dood) gelaai. In ooreenstemming met vorige navorsing, het geslagsverskille duidelik geblyk ten opsigte van die aantal, vlak en patroon van vrees, met dogters wat konsekwent meer vrees as seuns vermeld het. Daar was geen beduidende verhouding tussen ouderdom of kultuur en self-gerapporteerde vrese nie. Ten opsigte van die drie subgroepe waarin die kinders met visuele gestremdhede ingedeel was, het die kinders met 'n ernstige visuele gestremdheid die hoogste aantal en vlakke van vrees gerapporteer. Oor die algemeen het die vreesprofiele van die twee oorhoofse groepe (kinders met en kinders sonder visuele gestremdhede) nie beduidend verskil nie, en dus blyk dit dat die wêrelde waarin hierdie twee groepe leef, nie so verskillend is as wat aanvanklik gedink is nie. Ten slotte, word die waarde en tekortkominge van die onderhawige studie bespreek, sowel as aanbevelings vir toekomstige navorsing voorgestel.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/4501
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