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P. du Plessis

University of Johannesburg (SOUTH AFRICA)
As leaders of their schools, principals strive to ensure a postive learning environment for all learners, one where learners feel safe and free from harassment. Over the years, the concept of safe schools has evolved which refers to the provision of an atmosphere that facilitates the emotional, physical and over all well being of the learners. Today school principals have multifaceted roles to play. Principals are expected to uphold the higest educational standards in schools, maintain a positive school climate and furthermore must see to the safety of the learners at school.

Learner violence is and has been a thorny issue among learners and teachers since the advent of democracy. The problem is not only unique in South Africa but the world over including developing countries.

The South African government through the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of South Africa together with the Department of Education through legislation such as the South African Schools Act made provision through School Governing Bodies and school principals ensuring that the violence in schools should be managed and be eradicated by means of formulating sound policies.

However, irrespective of endeavours by authorities to curb these problems, schools are still witnessing serious incidents where learners and teachers are committing forms of violence againsteach other. This motivated the author to explore the experiences of the school principal, in particular public schools, in managing violence in schools. The general aim of this paper is to explore and describe principals' experiences in managing school violence for the betterment of quality teaching and learning and to make the school a safer place.

A qualitative research design was used in this study, with case study design being the focus. A case study provides unique examples of real people in real situations. Participants were purposefully selected. Purposeful sampling allows us to choose a case because it illustrates some features or process in which the researcher was interested. Participants in the research were chosen from a specific identified group, whose opinion and ideas were of specific interst to this study. Principals of public secondary schools from the Gauteng West District were purposefully selected. Gauteng province is the smallest province in South Africa. All the principals had four or more years experience in principalship. Semi-structured interview.s and relevant official documents were used as a form of collecting data. Qualitative content analysis were used in analysing data in this research. Themes were identified and will be discussed.