‘Act could damage pupil’

2011-11-03 00:00

PARENTS of pupils at the Pelham Senior Primary school have expressed concern after a child at the school was reportedly humiliated by a teacher who is said to have caught the child stealing last week.

Several irate parents have called The Witness last week complaining that the child was humiliated after she was paraded in front of other pupils as a thief.

On Thursday last week, the grade four pupil was reportedly caught stealing money by a teacher, and as punishment, the teacher made the child stand outside her classroom in the passage carrying a placard on which “I am a thief” was written in Afrikaans.

The child apparently spent the entire break standing there with the placard while other pupils walked past.

Attempts to speak to the child’s mother about the incident were unsuccessful.

Several irate parents from the school, however, called The Witness saying that regardless of what the child might have done, there was no need for the teacher to subject her to such a level of humiliation. They described the punishment as disgraceful.

A parent who declined to be named, fearing his child would be victimised, said: “It does not matter what the pupil had done, at grade four she is still a child and it was totally unnecessary that she be humiliated in such a manner.”

The parent said such an incident could not be tolerated and parents needed to take serious action.

“We know that the principal was not at school. What I would like to know is where was he when this incident happened.”

Another source said the whole episode was disgusting. “This was very disturbing. What happened to this child could have long-lasting psychological effects.”

Cristine Scolari, a child psychologist, said what happened was cruel and harsh treatment. She said such punishment left the child at the mercy of being teased by her peers and any future transgression will now be blamed on her.

She said the incident could cause the child to feel ashamed and could affect her self-worth.

“Other children could possibly tease and taunt her as being a thief for a long time to come.

“A child may then internalise that this is all there is to her, and be alienated from her peers.

“The child does need to know that stealing is a very inappropriate and serious act, and she needs to make things right by apologising to the teacher, giving back what she took, and getting other punishment without the humiliation.”

Sihle Mlotshwa of the Department of Education said the department had not been able to confirm whether the incident did take place.

“If such an incident took place the department condemns it in the strongest possible terms as this is not punishment but humiliating the child.”

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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