Date of Award

2003

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Lynne Cohen

Second Advisor

Dawn Darlastan-Jones

Abstract

The current exploratory study examined Psychological Sense of Community (PSOC) in 16 Western Australian school children, between the ages of seven and eight from two schools in the Perth metropolitan region. The aim was to identify whether young children understand the concept of PSOC, within their school environment. A qualitative methodology using semi-structured interviews was employed. Questions were generated based on the Neighbourhood Youth Inventory (NYI) and the Sense of Community Index (SCI), as a measure of children's PSOC in their school environment. A thematic content analysis was performed using a question ordered matrix, to compile common themes and meanings from within the descriptive data. Results indicated children in one school did possess an understanding of PSOC in their school environment. The second school did not reveal an understanding of PSOC, rather they displayed a sense of belonging to their school in relation to enrolment, and exhibited antisocial behaviours. The findings of this exploratory study suggest if PSOC can be identified and nurtured in young children, it is possible the beneficial effects of PSOC such as reciprocal friendships, belonging to a group, and prosocial behaviours may develop and continue throughout an individual's lifespan. The financial, social and psychological implications for the Western Australian Department of Justice, health care system and society are discussed.

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