Call to report bullying timeously

2016-09-20 06:00

The education department says it is very unfortunate that many cases of bullying go unreported.

Jessica Shelver, spokesperson of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), says, in a statement, after a Grade 7 learner at a school in Plumstead allegedly committed suicide at his home, on Wednesday 7 September, because he was allegedly bullied at school. It is alleged that the learner was constantly ridiculed in class by his teachers for “being a slow learner”.

“We can confirm that the school has reported the tragic death of a Grade 7 learner who committed suicide at home last week. We are deeply saddened by the loss of such a young life.”

Shelver says the department views bullying in a very serious light.

“Unfortunately, many cases of bullying go unreported and the WCED is therefore not able to intervene. It is important that parents and learners report any form of bullying immediately to their class teacher, school principal or to the Safe Schools hotline,” she says.

Following the incident, the department sent counsellors to debrief the teachers and to advise them on how to discuss the tragedy with learners. Learners also received counselling.

“Our district officials have informed us that no incidence of bullying has been reported by the learner to the school or the school social worker. Our officials are investigating,” says Shelver.

The department’s Safe Schools hotline is available to schools, teachers, parents and learners to report all school crime and abuse, and aims to contribute to a safe and crime-free school environment.

Safe Schools then refers cases to special education support staff, as required.

The districts also run a number of initiatives, awareness campaigns and training programmes in schools which include learners signing anti-bullying pledges.

The education department has a policy called “Abuse no more” that provides clear guidelines on how to deal with various forms of abuse, including bullying.

“Parents are key to identifying behavioural changes in their children which could be as a result of being bullied. I therefore appeal to parents to keep an eye on their child’s behaviour. If your child seems withdrawn or angry, investigate the reason for these changes and speak to the class teacher immediately if the matter is school related.”

The department’s web site includes a popular section on discipline, including guidelines on how to deal with bullying.

V The guidelines are on The Safe Schools toll-free number is 0800 45 46 47.

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