How safe are our kids at school?

2013-04-17 14:20

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Johannesburg - One in five secondary school pupils has experienced some form violence while at school, the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention (CJCP) said on Wednesday.

"This translates to just over a million learners across the country," CJCP research director Lezanne Leoschut said in Johannesburg.

"The study suggests that schools pose a considerable risk of violence for children across the country."

Leoschut was presenting the results of a CJCP study on violence in schools in the 12 months between August 2011 and August 2012.

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.

"Assault is the second most common form of violence experienced," said Leoschut.

Robbery was the least common form of violence.

Threatened at school

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.

Leoschut said although threats of violence did not result in physical injuries, they caused psychological damage.

"Threats are important since the psychological harm and fear associated with it is substantial and may impact negatively on the schooling," she said.

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 cyber bullying. Theft was reported by 44.1% of children.

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

"Educators are often absent, which often leaves the learners open and vulnerable for violence."

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

Corporal punishment was still a problem, and was reported by 49.8% of the children surveyed. This was up from 47.5% in 2008.

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

Recent reports

CJCP executive director Patrick Burton said levels of violence in schools were high, but had stayed the same between 2008, when the study was first conducted, and 2012.

Recent violence reported by the media includes a 16-year-old girl being stabbed in the neck, allegedly by another 16-year-old girl, during break at Dr Malan Hoërskool in Meyerton, south of Johannesburg, on Tuesday.

In Cape Town, a pupil accused of firing shots at two fellow pupils is scheduled to appear in the Wynberg Magistrate's Court on 19 April.

On 5 March, a 15-year-old girl accused of stabbing another teen dead appeared in the Randfontein Magistrate's Court.

The Grade 9 pupil allegedly stabbed a 17-year-old girl while they were on their way home from school.

Burton said school safety needed to be made a priority and applied.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  education  |  research

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