Chisom Jenniffer Okoye
2 minute read
22 Jan 2018
8:00 am

Gauteng’s stern warning to bullies

Chisom Jenniffer Okoye

Parents urged to play their part in stamping out this scourge.

Illustration of bullying.

The Gauteng education department has warned that bullying at schools will be harshly dealt with following a number of horrific incidents in 2017.

“The department has a policy of zero tolerance to bullying or any form of misconduct,” said spokesperson Steve Mabona. His comments follow several worrisome incidents that occurred last year – including incidents of alleged murder at the hands of school bullies.

Mabona said that to reduce bullying, parents must assist in enforcing discipline “in and outside the school environment”. Anyone found to be transgressing the zero tolerance policy will be dealt with “in line with the South African Schools Act code of conduct”.

Schools are also urged to enforce their codes of conduct to deal with bullying and other disciplinary matters. Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi urged principals and teachers to respond appropriately when cases of bullying, violence and intimidation were reported.

“Ignoring these reports makes the victim feel more vulnerable and subjected to secondary trauma of adults that show a cavalier attitude,” said Lesufi. Educational psychologist Vanessa Barnes told The Citizen bullying did not just occur on school grounds, but also on social media. “Bullying is prevalent in all schools, across the age groups.

We also need to recognise that it is not only done on school property, but also after school in the form of cyber bullying on social media and cellphone apps,” she said.

“These effects can continue on into adulthood if not dealt with. It is highly traumatic and requires professional intervention.” She pointed to awareness programmes playing a crucial role in preventing bullying.

“The severity [of bullying] ranges from school to school, depending on the awareness programmes they have [and] the school’s ability to provide emotional support for the bully, the victim and the parents of both parties.

“It is also dependant on the school’s code of conduct and disciplinary policies.” “Parents played a role in prevention,” she said, adding: “The biggest thing parents can do to prevent their own children from becoming bullies, is to talk to them.” Children who bully others often do so because of underlying emotional difficulty. If parents communicate well with their children, they should be able to identify this and seek professional help.

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