THE recent violent attack at Norkem Park High School in Kempton Park has put the issue of violence at schools under the spotlight. This is after a pupil allegedly stabbed a fellow pupil with a pair of scissors. It was reported that some family members also joined in the fight. Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi, visited the school to address the situation.
BIG CONTRIBUTOR TO THE VIOLENCE
School violence is not new in South Africa. It affects teaching and learning as well as the well-being of teachers and learners. The accessibility of drugs and alcohol is a big contributor to the situation. Other factors include bullying, overcrowding, children growing up in broken homes, lack of proper sexual orientation and, most importantly, the lack of support from parents and teachers at schools.
“There are some lessons parents are supposed to teach children at home so that when they arrive at school they know their rights and responsibilities and whom to turn to when they fall victim to abuse from their peers,” says clinical director of Teddy Bear Foundation, Shaheda Omar. “We need the support of parents because most pupils are afraid of going to school.”
The Department of Basic Education has stated that it does not tolerate the violence that is taking place at schools and it will deal with pupils who do not adhere to the code of conduct that governs schools. “There is no way under my leadership that I am going to have a Yizo Yizo school,” says Panyaza, referring to the lawlessness that was part of the controversial SABC1 drama series Yizo Yizo. “We will never surrender the education of our children to gangsters.”
SPATE OF ATTACKS
The Teddy Bear Foundation together with the Gauteng Departments of Education and Health, the SAPS’ family violence, child protection and sexual offences unit and some volunteers have joined forces to eradicate the spate of violent attacks in schools. “We have called on these different departments to assist in the crisis we are facing,” says Shaheda.
“We are currently working with 12 schools in our campaign to stop the violence at schools. The campaign educates learners about the negative impact violence has on their studies, their wellbeing and future. Our plans are to spread the talks throughout all the schools in Gauteng and other provinces.
“We cannot have learners and teachers fearing for their lives at schools, which are supposed to provide education. It is implicit that children’s safety and protection are ensured.”