Suicide rates high in SA teens

Suicide rates among pupils due to the psychological effects of violence in schools have increased, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said in a report on school-based violence presented on Wednesday.

The report said: "The impact of school-based violence goes beyond the physical harm that arises from violent incidents. Instead, its effects are expressed in a range of defective learner behaviour and an increase in suicide rates among learners who are not able to deal with violence and who feel unprotected."

A recent survey conducted by the Medical Research Council showed that between 3.5 and 4 percent of deaths of children aged between 10 and 14 were a result of suicide.

Another 23 percent had planned some form of suicide, 33 percent had considered killing themselves and 35 percent had experienced feelings of overwhelming sadness.

'Violence part of kids identities'
The SAHRC's report said bullying in schools had increased, and that the Community Action towards a Safe Environment (Case) had raised concerns that violence had become "part of children's identities".

Case had observed children playing games like "hit me, hit me" and "rape me, rape me" in which children would run after each other and pretend to rape each other.

SAHRC said "a considerable number" of educators administer corporal punishment, contrary to the Constitutional Court's 1995 verdict abolishing this.

Long-term consequences
A recent study showed that 58 percent of the teachers were in favour of re-instituting corporal punishment, 28 percent admitted still using this form of correction, and 51 percent of students indicated they had been caned or spanked at school.

SAHRC said that aside from the physical consequences, the short and long-term impacts of violence for young victims ranged from poor self-esteem and being frightened to the development of aggressive patterns and mental health problems in adulthood, including schizophrenia. – (Sapa)

March 2008

Read more:
Clarity on kid suicides
Abuse ups suicide risk

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