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By Marizka Coetzer

Journalist


School violence: Children see behavior in communities, transfer it to schools – experts

Criminologist Professor Jaco Barkhuizen said any violence was a learned behaviour.


Schools are becoming war zones, playgrounds are turning into crime scenes … pupils are stabbed, intimidated with guns and teachers are threatened, or have their cars damaged. Pupils at several schools are rebelling and destroying school property in an orgy of anarchy. The Gauteng department of education was concerned after unrest broke out in Alexandra, following a pupil stabbing the Realogile High School’s deputy principal last Wednesday with a pair of scissors, spokesperson Steve Mabona said. A fight between a high school pupil and a young man broke out outside a school in North West last week, when the pupil…

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Schools are becoming war zones, playgrounds are turning into crime scenes … pupils are stabbed, intimidated with guns and teachers are threatened, or have their cars damaged. Pupils at several schools are rebelling and destroying school property in an orgy of anarchy.

The Gauteng department of education was concerned after unrest broke out in Alexandra, following a pupil stabbing the Realogile High School’s deputy principal last Wednesday with a pair of scissors, spokesperson Steve Mabona said.

A fight between a high school pupil and a young man broke out outside a school in North West last week, when the pupil allegedly pulled out a gun. Also last week, a video circulated of a teacher’s vehicle from Northbury Park Secondary School being set alight after confiscating a pupil’s cellphone in class.

ALSO READ: Violence in our schools a reflection of a broken system at home and our communities

And on 1 September, all hell broke loose at an Alexandra school when pupils disrupted schooling by damaging furniture and fire extinguishers. Democratic Alliance (DA) education spokesperson Khume Ramulifho said there was a lack of discipline in many schools.

“Pupils and teachers arrive at school late; some leave school premises before school is closed; schools get vandalised; school governing bodies are dysfunctional – to name a few.”

Ramulifho said there was a need to prioritise school safety based on emerging trends of ill-discipline, bullying and violent crimes.

“But some of these challenges are a result of a lack of discipline at home. Social media helps to expose some of these negative behaviours but they are common in schools where there is poor leadership and weak management.”

Educational expert Professor Mary Metcalfe said schools were complex institutions.

“They have to have rules to manage a large number of children/adolescents – and it is understanding of, and support for, these rules that make the school function so that teaching and learning can take place.”

Metcalfe said in schools that work, these behaviours were part of the culture of the school and it was the responsibility of the school management team, supported by the school governing body to achieve and maintain this culture.

“Many of the problems we see in schools are a sign of problems in society/the community/ at home and the school and its teachers cannot address these challenges on their own. When a school is failing, the education district needs to intervene to support it,” she said.

“In the current situation, this intervention is urgent as the environment is not conducive to teaching and learning, or to the emotional – and physical – well-being of the pupils. Schools need to bring in community leaders to analyse the challenges, find solutions and assist in their implementation,” she said.

ALSO READ: Three grade 8 girls sexually assaulted at school, allegedly by fellow pupils

Criminologist Professor Jaco Barkhuizen said any violence was a learned behaviour.

“Children see this happening in their communities and transfer this type of apparent behaviour to their schools. We are a violent society due to a lack of service delivery, a lack of respect and discipline and dignity and a country ridden with crime due to police incompetence,” he said.

Barkhuizen said there was no moral standing because children saw what was happening in the country and mimicked what they saw.

“It’s the general violent malice in South Africa that reflects in the children of South Africa,” he said.

– marizkac@citizen.co.za

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