Violence: what the pupils say

2008-08-27 00:00

The killing of sixteen-year-old Jacques Pretorius at the Nic Diederichs Technical High School in Krugersdorp has again raised questions about what is behind the spate of killings in schools.

This is why two mothers and members of the Northdale community, Nasima Ballim and Ingla Pillay, thought it was time to get a perspective on the matter from those mostly affected, the pupils.

They did this by engaging some of the pupils at Silver Heights Secondary in a two-day workshop called the Alternative to Violence Project (AVP).

The women are part-time students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Adult Education, and the curriculum requires that they do an AVP course under the module of Peace Education.

“The course had such a positive impact on us we thought it was vital that we take the project to schools in order to teach our children coping skills. As mothers we are so concerned about the escalating violence in schools.

“Every week you hear about an incident, and we wanted to help children discover alternatives to violence and hopefully start a culture of non-violence that can be taught in school and that they can grow with into adulthood,” said Pillay.

A pupil at the school, Eugene Dlamini (18), feels that violence in schools has reached new heights because South Africans are accustomed to having excuses for being violent.

“Because of apartheid, people of different races hated each other and that was communicated through violence. I feel a programme like AVP should be implemented in schools because I have learnt so much …”

Zandile Radebe (17) said she often reads newspapers and watches TV news to catch up on current events. She admits she is disturbed by the amount of violence in schools.

“It is actually very scary now to go to school. I think it all boils down to a lack of respect and people abusing and overplaying their rights. Prior to this workshop it was easy to judge and assume things about people, but I have learnt that to avoid conflicts you need to communicate better …”

Nikata Sonlall (16) said the message she will be taking to her peers who were not able to attend the workshop is the “I-message”.

“So many times you end up with unnecessary fights simply by your approach to a situation. If you are confrontational, emotions are bound to rise. Instead of saying ‘you’ all the time and passing the blame, you can shift to ‘I feel this way’. That calms the other person …”

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