One in five secondary school pupils experiences school violence – study

2013-04-17 16:59

Security fences and metal detectors will not end violence in schools because such violence is often generated internally, a study on the issue has revealed.

“Schools in some provinces are putting up security fences and security lighting ... to try and stop people from coming into schools ... It is not going to be enough,” executive director of the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention (CJCP), Patrick Burton, said in Johannesburg today.

“One of the key factors is that ... classrooms are the primary site where most of the violence occurs ... Violence is usually perpetrated by a classmate.”

He was speaking at the release of the centre’s study on violence in South African schools, conducted in the 12 months between August 2011 and August 2012.

The centre first conducted the study in 2008.

The study found one in five secondary school pupils had experienced some form of violence at school.

A total of 121 high schools across the country were randomly selected and 5 939 children, 121 principals and 239 teachers were surveyed.

The study focused on four specific types of violence – threats of violence, assault, sexual assault, and robbery.

Director of the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria, Prof Ann Skelton, said pupils were entitled to feel safe at schools.

“We need to ensure that our classrooms are safe ... it can only be done once the person in charge takes responsibility,” Skelton said.

She said a UN Children’s Fund study showed violence in a society contributed to violence in schools.

Burton said government should find a solution for crime prevention.

A national framework was needed to give pupils a voice to say where at school they felt unsafe and to provide a reporting mechanism.

Random searches should be conducted in schools, Burton said.

“Somebody has to take responsibility for what is happening in schools.”

Schools should be embedded within a community because children exposed to violence were more likely to become violent, Burton said.

Acting chief director for social inclusion and partnership in the basic education department, Shermain Mannah, said the department was concerned at the levels of violence in schools.

“When a school is not safe, we consider it a school that is not functional. We, as a department, are aware that school safety is a critical requirement to education ... School safety is extremely important.”

Mannah said the department had teamed up with police to address “criminal elements” at some schools.

The study showed that one in 10 pupils had been threatened with violence at school.

One in 20 children had been a victim of robbery.

One in 16 participants had reported being a victim of physical assault, and one in 20 pupils of sexual assault or rape.

Around 20.9% of pupils reported online or cyberbullying. Theft was reported by 44.1% of children.

CJCP research director Lezanne Leoschut said the most common place for violence to occur was in the classroom, followed by playgrounds or sport fields.

“Educators are often absent, which leaves the learners open and vulnerable for violence,” she said.

Pupils also reported violence more, mostly to their teachers, she said.

Corporal punishment was still a problem, and was reported by almost 50% of the children surveyed. This was up from 47.5% in 2008.

Leoschut said the study found exposure to crime increased the risk of victimisation.

Burton said levels of violence in schools were high, but had stayed the same between 2008 and 2012.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.