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By Cheryl Kahla

Content Strategist

Bullying: SAPS to conduct random searches in Soweto schools

Officials will conduct searches for dangerous weapons and illegal substances while GPL speaker will raise awareness about safety in schools.

The spotlight is on bullying in schools after a Geluksdal Secondary School pupil was stabbed to death on Thursday.

His family has since said 18-year-old Shawn Mphela’s death could have been prevented if action had been taken against bullying.

Bullying in SA schools

Random searches in Gauteng schools

On Monday and Tuesday, Gauteng Provincial Legislature’s (GPL) speaker Ntombi Mekgwe will visit schools in Gauteng, accompanied by members of the South African Police Service (Saps).

While officials will conduct random searches for dangerous weapons and illegal substances, Mekgwe will use the visit to raise awareness of the importance of safety in schools.

The team visited Kgatelopele Secondary School in Braamfisherville on Monday, and Siyabonga Secondary school on Tuesday.

‘Teachers don’t do enough’

Back in November 2022, a father from Eersterust in Pretoria said not enough was being done about bullying in schools.

At the time, his 13-year-old daughter was a victim of bullying, and he was concerned that hardly any action was taken by teachers who were aware of the incident.

He said: “By the fifth period, a teacher told her and other pupils to stop eating in class. The teacher told my daughter to stop before her father runs to the school again. The children laughed at my daughter and one of the classmates said they have been waiting to [hit] her for a long time”.

NOW READ: Man concerned after daughter’s alleged attackers get off with slap on wrist

Bullying more common among boys

A Professor of Gender and Childhood Sexuality at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Deevia Bhana, said “girls and boys who are seen as ‘soft’ or ‘gay’ are the main victims of bullying, name-calling, physical violence and sexual violence”.

“These experiences in schools affect children’s concentration and academic performance. In some instances, girls drop out of school to avoid such violence.”

Professor Bhana cited a UNESCO study which found that bullying is more common among boys; saying they are “more likely to engage in physical violence”.

As per the report, the following can be done to reduce bullying in schools:

  • Legislation must be put in place to safeguard the rights of children.
  • Policies must be implemented to prevent and respond to school violence and bullying.
  • The availability of accurate, reliable and disaggregated data should be improved.
  • Initiatives should be created to train and support teachers, especially with regards to preventing and responding to school violence and bullying.

ALSO READ: Are adults to blame for bullying?

Government’s stance on bullying

Meanwhile, the South African government on Monday reiterated that all forms of bullying “are a serious matter and unacceptable”.

“Government condemns recent incidences of bullying and violence in schools, and calls on parents and communities to play their part in curbing violence.”

In addition, government calls on parents to assist children who suffer at the hands of bullies, since bullying causes “serious physical, psychological and emotional harm” which lasts a lifetime.

All incidents of bullying should be reported to the police, while those in need of assistance can contact Childline on 116.