Bullying and violence: Urgent intervention needed

2017-03-20 05:42

The article 14-year-old hit with brick at Cape school refers. (News24, March 15).

In the last few weeks I read several cases of school violence and I have also seen numerous videos of bullying going viral on social media. The high number of bullying and abusive videos involving learners that have surfaced recently on social media is a cause of great concern. Research shows that school violence is escalating despite the measures put in place to address the problem by the Department of Education (DoE) and schools themselves (Fishbaugh, Berkeley & Schroth, 2003; Human Rights Commission, 2006).

According to a survey by consumer insights company Pondering Panda; more than 7 000 learners and teachers took part in this survey and indicated that bullying still remains one of the biggest problems in schools.

The school environment and setting necessary for effective teaching and learning to take place is increasingly weakened and challenged by a culture of school-based violence and this is becoming a matter of national concern to all conscious driven people, educationists, and parents. The escalation of violence like bullying in South African schools has led researchers to conclude that schools are rapidly and increasingly becoming arenas for violence, not only between pupils but also between teachers and pupils, interschool rivalries, and gang conflict.

Moreover, it has been reported in a news article that Veronica Hofmeester, South African Council of Educators (SACE) Chairperson, said in a seminar on violence at schools “that South Africa was ranked second highest in the world in terms of school violence.” She said “according to reports, 22% of pupils in South Africa had been threatened with violence, assaulted, robbed or sexually assaulted at school and that contributing factors went beyond just the school gates.” According to another report the National School Violence study revealed that learners were perpetrators of 90% of the violence that happens in schools, whether against other learners or teachers,” she said adding that a great deal of “subtle” school violence and intimidation went unreported.

Although bullying has been a part of school, home and even work environment for many decades, it is not acceptable and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. The effects of bullying can be devastating and the best way to address bullying is to stop it as soon as it has been detected. Parents should contact the school staff each time their child informs them that he or she has been bullied and parents or guardians should not take the law into their own hands.

But from where exactly does bullying stem? Is it a reflection of the times we’re living in? Is it socialisation or the home environment? Children are like mirrors; they reflect the reality of our society’s behaviour- vulgar language, intolerance and cruelty towards each other, violence and discriminatory statements are some of the daily messages our children are receiving. The misuse and un- supervised use of the internet, social media and television adds to this multi-layered menace called bullying. Children do not have the ability to filter for themselves what they should accept or practice or leave out. Bullying is the symptom of which we need to address the root causes.

In order to begin the rehabilitation process we all need to do self-reflection and introspection. We need to examine our habits, biases and lifestyle.

It is only through the combined efforts of parents, families, school authorities, community and religious leaders and government officials that violence in all its forms can be addressed effectively.

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