This paper examines the nature of violence as experienced by adolescent African children between the ages of 10-14 years in the South African township of New Crossroads near Cape Town. The longitudinal study focuses on children from a wide variety of family structures and dynamics in an attempt to examine detailed factors shaping each adolescent's development. The study moves from the premise that the impact of violence on individuals is complex, reflecting the interaction between the violent act on the one hand, and coping strategies adopted by the victims on the other. The children identified three spheres as arenas in which violent interactions occur: home, school and street. It was found that not only have the children devised strategies for dealing with the violence and learned how to negotiate various relationships with adults and peers but also that beyond the violence around them they do have some aspirations.