Editorial: School violence is a reflection of our society

The killing of a Grade 1 learner by a 17-year-old in Makapanstad, Hammanskraal, has once again focused attention on the worrying levels of violence in our schools.

It is chilling to imagine an adult intentionally killing a Grade 1 pupil – only seven years old – whose only sin was to go to the toilets, where the killer was hiding.

When incidents like this happen, it is very easy to start pointing fingers.

Already questions are being asked about whether there was adequate security at the school.

It is important to investigate that, as well as the mental capacity of the killer.

However, we must admit, like North West education MEC Sello Lehari did, that this violence is the result of a broken society.

Police can only do so much, but they cannot be expected to police every facet of our society, including school toilets.

The Makapanstad incident follows other major assaults, stabbings and killings that have happened in schools this year.

Earlier this month, a Kimberley Boys’ High School pupil was seen in a video that went viral throwing water in his teacher’s face.

Last month, Ekurhuleni metro police arrested a Grade 11 pupil at Fumana High School in Katlehong, after he allegedly attempted to stab fellow pupils by chasing them around with a knife, until they locked themselves in the principal’s office.

And in September, a teenager was arrested in the Eastern Cape for the murder of a fellow pupil following a stabbing incident during a fight over a missing cellphone.

Schools must do all they can to provide security on their premises and prevent weapons from entering the school grounds.

But the bulk of the responsibility lies with us as a society.

The violence that our children take to school is learnt from us as parents and from the community.

All the high walls and security in the world will not solve problems in our schools if we as a society still believe that violence is a legitimate way to resolve our differences.

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July 2020

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