• Glynnis Dykes Department of Social Work, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, South Africa.



Coombes and Anderson (2000:281) assert that the “extent and incidence” of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in families of origin of social workers have increasingly become the focus of research. Their research focused on six social workers who are adult children of alcoholic families. Olson’s (2006) research confirmed a high incidence of sexual and emotional abuse reported by the social work participants. This particular finding resonated with an earlier study by Black, Jeffreys and Hartley (1993), which had found that social work students report a high incidence of childhood trauma. Similarly, Earle (2008) studied early life experiences of social work students at the Universities of Limpopo and Stellenbosch. Although Schenck’s (2009) research focused on the socio-economic circumstances of fourth-year social work students at the University of South Africa (Unisa) that impacted on their throughput rate, it also revealed traumatic childhood experiences. Tshiwulla (2007) found that students at the University of the Western Cape felt poor in a self-damaging way. In all three South African studies a high proportion of students reported early traumatic experiences. In addition, in Earle’s (2008) study social work educators revealed their concern regarding the ethical behaviour of social work students, which appears to be affected by ACE.


Download data is not yet available.


AYOUB, C., DEUTSCH, R. & MARAGANORE, A. 1999. Emotional distress in children of high-conflict divorce: the impact of marital conflict and violence. Family and Conciliation Courts Review, 37(3):297-314.

BABBIE, E. & MOUTON, J. 2006. The practice of social research (SA ed). Cape Town: Oxford University Press.

BELLEFEUILLE, G., MARTIN, R. & BUCK, M. 2005. From pedagogy to technagogy in social work education: a constructivist approach to instructional design in an online, competency-based child welfare practice course. Child & Youth Care Forum, 34(5):371-389.

BEZUIDENHOUT, F. 2004. A reader on selected social issues. Pretoria: Van Schaik Publishers.

BEZUIDENHOUT, C. & SPIES, G. (eds) 2006. Sexual abuse: dynamics, assessment and healing (1st ed). Pretoria: Van Schaik Publishers.

BISSELL, M. 2000. Socio-economic outcomes of teen pregnancy and parenthood: a review of the literature. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 9(3):191-203.

BLACK, P., JEFFREYS, D. & HARTLEY, E. 1993. Personal history of psychosocial trauma in the early life of social work and business students. Journal of Social Work Education, 29(2):171-180.

BLUNT, R. 2008. Turning apartheid around. In: GROSLING, G. & HEAGNEY, L. (eds) Improving student retention in higher education: the role of teaching and learning. London: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group.

BONG, M. & SKAALVIK, E. 2003. Academic self-concept and self-efficacy: how different are they really? Educational Psychology Review, 15(1):1-15.

BRANDON, M., SCHOFIELD, G. & TRINDER, L. 1998. Social work with children. New York: Palgrave.

BROOKS-GUNN, J. & DUNCAN, G. 1997. The effects of poverty on children. The future of children. Children and Poverty, 7(2):55-77.

BROWN, D., ANDA, R., FELITTI, V., EDWARDS, V., MALARCHER, A., CROFT, J. & GILES, W. 2010. Adverse childhood experiences are associated with the risk of lung cancer: a prospective cohort study. BMC Public Health, 10(20). [Online] Available: [Accessed: 01/10/2010].

BURTON, D., FOY, D., BWANAUSI, C., JOHNSON, J. & MOORE, L. 1994. The relationship between traumatic exposure, family dysfunction, and post-traumatic stress symptoms in male juvenile offenders. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 7(1):83-93.

COLLINS, K. & VAN BREDA, A. 2010. Academic support for first-year social work students in South Africa. Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk, 46(1):14-25.

COOMBES, K. & ANDERSON, R. 2002. The impact of family of origin on social workers from alcoholic families. Clinical Social Work Journal, 28(3):281-301.

CRESWELL, J. 2007. Qualitative inquiry and research design: choosing among five approaches (2nd ed). California: Sage Publications.

CRESWELL, J. 2009. Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches (3rd ed). California: Sage Publications.

DOWLING, E., GESTSDOTTIR, S., ANDERSON, P., VON EYE, A., ALMERIGI, J. & LERNER, R. 2004. Structural relations among spirituality, religiosity, and thriving in adolescence. Applied Developmental Science, 8(1):7-16.

DUNCAN, G., YEUNG, W., BROOKS-GUNN, J. & SMITH, R. 1998. How much does childhood poverty affect the life chances of children? American Sociological Review, 63:406-423.

DYKES, G. 2009. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and support: are the learning needs of RPL first-year students different? Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk, 45(3):314-326.

DYKES, G. 2010. Addiction. In: NICHOLAS, L.; RAUTENBACH, J. & MAISTRY, M. (eds) Introduction to social work. Cape Town: Juta & Co.

EARLE, N. 2008. Social work in social change: the profession and education of social workers in South Africa. Cape Town: HSRC.

EGELAND, B., CARLSON, E. & SROUFE, L. 1993. Resilience as process. Development and Psychopathology, 5(4):517-528.

FERGUS, S. & ZIMMERMAN, M. 2005. Adolescent resilience: a framework for understanding healthy development in the face of risk. Annual Review of Public Health, 26:399-419.

FERGUSSON, D. & LYNSKEY, M. 1995. Suicide attempts and suicidal ideation in a birth cohort of 16-year-old New Zealanders. Journal of American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 34(10):1308-1317.

FOCUS ADOLESCENT SERVICES. 2008. Your teen’s friends – peer influence and peer relationships. [Online] Available: [Accessed: 23/04/ 2008].

GIBBONS, J., BORE, M., MUNRO, D. & POWIS, D. 2007. Using personal quality assessment for selection of social work students. Australian Social Work, 60(2):210-221.

GREYLING, W. & BROKENSHA, S. 2006. Reflecting on the who-am-I? Essay as an integrative learning experience for adult learning. Journal for Language Teaching, 40(1):117-132.

GROENEWALD, T. 2004. A phenomenological research design illustrated. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 3(1). [Online] Available: /3~1/pdf/groenewald/pdf. [Accessed: 26/11/2010].

HERBERT, M. & HARPER-DORTON, K. 2002. Working with children, adolescents, and their families. United Kingdom: British Psychological Society and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

HEPWORTH, D., ROONEY, R. & LARSEN, J. 2002. Direct social work practice: theory and practice. California: Brooks/Cole.

Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk 2011:47(4)

HIGGINS, D. & McCABE, M. 2003. Maltreatment and family dysfunction in childhood and the subsequent adjustment of children and adults. Journal of Family Violence, 18(2):107-120.

JEKIELEK, S. 1998. Parental conflict, marital disruption and children’s emotional well-being. Social Forces, 76(3):905-935.

KIRST-ASHMAN, K. & HULL, G. 2002. Understanding generalist practice (3rd ed). California: Brooks/Cole.

KRIESBERG, L. 2003. ‘Us’ versus ‘them’. [Online] Available: www.beyondintractability. org/essay/identityissues/. [Accessed: 21/05/2009].

LAFRANCE, J., GRAY, E. & HERBERT, M. 2004. Gate-keeping for professional social work practice. Social Work Education, 23(3):325-340.

LINLEY, P. 2003. Positive adaptation to trauma: wisdom as both process and outcome. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 16(6):601-610.

LUTHAR, S., CICCHETTI, D. & BECKER, B. 2000. The construct of resilience: a critical evaluation and guidelines for future work. Child Development, 71(3):543-562.

MARKS, N., HEYJUNG, J. & JLEUN, S. 2007. Death of parents and adult psychological and physical well-being: a prospective U.S. national study. Journal of Family Issues, 28(12):1611-1628.

MASTEN, A., BEST, K. & GARMEZY, N. 1990. Resilience and development: contributions from the study of children who overcome adversity. Development and Psychopathology, 2:425-444.

MOHAUPT, S. 2008. Review article: resilience and social exclusion. Social Policy & Society, 8(1):63-71.

MUNRO, D., BORE, M. & POWIS, D. 2005. Personality factors in professional ethical behavior: studies of empathy and narcissism. Australian Journal of Psychology, 57(1):49-60.

MYERS, H. & TAYLOR, S. 1998. Family contributions to risk and resilience in African American children. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 29(1):215-229.

NESS, C. 2009. The adverse childhood experiences (ACE) study. Schuyler Centre for analysis and advocacy (New York): Research briefing.

OLSON, C. 2006. Influence of early-life psychosocial trauma, family adversity, and selected other variable in the career choice of social workers. [Online] Available: dissertation.pdf. [Accessed: 18/06/2009].

RAMSDEN, P. 1992. Learning to teach in higher education. London: Routledge.

ROTHERAM-BORUS, M., STEIN, J. & LIN, Y. 2001. Impact of parent death and an intervention on the adjustment of adolescents whose parents have HIV/AIDS. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65(5):763-773.

RUTTER, M. 1999. Resilience concepts and findings: implications for family therapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 21(2):119-144.

RYAN, M., McCORMACK, J. & CLEAK, H. 2006. Student performance in field education placements: the findings of a 6-year Australian study of admissions data. Journal of Social Work Education, 42(1):67-84.

SCHENCK, R. 2009. The socio-economic realities of the social work students of the University of South Africa. Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk, 45(3):299-313.

SCHILLING, E., ASELINE, R. (Jr) & GORE, S. 2007. Adverse childhood experiences and mental health in young adults: a longitudinal survey. BMC Public Health, 7(1). [Online] Available: [Accessed: 01/10/2010].

SMOKOWSKI, P., REYNOLDS, A. & BEZRUCZKO, N. 1999. Resilience and protection factors in adolescence: an autobiographical perspective from disadvantages youth. Journal of School Psychology, 37(4):425-448.

TSHIWULLA, L. 2007. Resilience in a Higher Education Institution. Inaugural lecture. University of the Western Cape, South Africa.

VAN BREDA, A. 2001. Resilience theory: a literature review. [Online] Available: /resilience/resilience2.pdf. [Accessed: 18/06/2009].

VAN HARMELEN, U. 1999. Where has all the geography gone: a social constructivist perspective of curriculum 2005. South African Geographical Journal, 81(2):80-85.

WILBURN, V. & SMITH, D. 2005. Stress, self-esteem, and suicidal ideation in late adolescents. Adolescence, 40(157):33-44.

Ethical clearance for the research was obtained from the institution where the study was undertaken.




How to Cite