Listen to your children and find solutions to their issues before it is too late.
This is one of the tips shared by the department of basic education (DBE) on how parents could deal with their children’s stress to prevent them from committing suicide.
DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the department had a list of tips, which could be found in each school, on how such tragic incidents could be avoided.
This after City Press learnt that a teenager had committed suicide at a Gauteng school last week after she allegedly failed her Grade 11 exams.
The death of the teenager, who cannot be named because her parents have not given permission, had been linked by three sources at the school to poor teaching outcomes.
Sources revealed that the school was divided between groups of parents and teachers, with one group supporting the school governing body, while the other was against it.
At the centre of the dispute at the school were allegations of mismanagement of funds dating back to 2016.
They said the divisions resulted in certain teachers not performing their duties and supporting pupils.
Mhlanga said the issue of pupils committing suicide was linked to the discussions that were heard by one of the nine commissions at an education lekgotla in Boksburg last week, which dealt with safety of pupils and teachers in schools.
He said that, unfortunately, pupils felt committing suicide was the only option because they battled to deal with stress.
“Some pupils feel powerless on how to deal with stress. They feel they don’t have a way of defending themselves so they decide to kill themselves because they can’t stomach going to school.
“Others feel they can’t even share at home what is happening to them so they kill themselves because they feel they can’t go through bullying every day and no one is doing anything about it,” Mhlanga said.
He said parents needed to listen to “what their children are saying and what they are complaining about” and thereafter decide on how to help them.
Mhlanga said pupils needed to be free in schools.
The department’s other tips on how parents or guardians should deal with their children’s stress, include:
. Having an open relationship that encourages communication with their children. This will give children confidence to talk about difficult situations they are experiencing;
. Taking an interest and becoming involved in their children’s school work;
. Talking to their children about how to manage and discuss stressful and challenging situations; and
. Reassuring children of their unconditional love, irrespective of the outcome of examinations.
SA Democratic Teachers’ Union secretariat officer Xolani Fakude said on the sidelines of the education lekgotla that parents needed to monitor, encourage and motivate their children.
“We are not saying parents must teach pupils. That’s our job as teachers. But we are saying – from issues around discipline and how they manage their [child’s] stress individually, which comes with the pressure of being a pupil, that’s where parents must come and assist us.
“As parents, they must show interest in the lives of their children. They must not just leave it to us and the department. It can’t work like that,” Fakude said.