Sex at schools a 'war'
Education experts say schools have become highly sexualised, and have called the sexual activity among pupils at school a "war".
New trends in Johannesburg schools include children having sex at school - even in full view of the CCTV cameras. Filmed group sex is becoming increasingly common.
Pupils also take explicit photos of themselves in school uniform because websites featuring young scantily clad children in uniform pay more for such pictures than for those that merely show nudity.
These scenarios were discussed by child rights activists, lawyers, teachers and education officials at a two-day education conference in Johannesburg yesterday - and it was revealed that just getting to school was half the problem.
"The concept of 'taxi queens' is a new trend in Ekurhuleni [on the East Rand]," said Gauteng district official Tinka Labuschagne yesterday.
"This is when a child sits in the front of the taxi next to the driver and offers sexual favours in return for taxi fare."
Labuschagne said she often hears stories such as this from teachers at 233 schools in Ekurhuleni, who contact her to ask her to work with traumatised children and offer support.
In response to the growing sexualisation of children, and levels of trauma, at schools, Labuschagne has co-authored a manual telling Gauteng teachers what to do when they suspect abuse.
Johannesburg Child Advocacy manager Luke Lamprecht also worked on the manual.
He said that, though teenagers had always been having sex, the level of sexual deviance was higher now because children had greater access to pornography.
"They act out what they see," he said. More disturbing was a recent study by Shahida Omar at the Teddy Bear Clinic that showed that a third of all abuse of children was committed by other children, with those under 10 years old being the most vulnerable.
Lamprecht said children at wealthy schools were not exempt.
"Parents don't control their teenagers' access to the internet."
He revealed other trends discussed at yesterday's conference, such as date-rape drugs being found at schools and large amounts of "sexting" - the distribution of pornographic photographs and other material by cellphone.
Lamprecht said teachers should report abuse but often did not know what to do.
The manual is expected to be available to Gauteng schools next year, he said. It tells principals how to negotiate legislation such as the Sexual Offences Act, the Child Justice Act, the Termination of Pregnancy Act, the Children's Act and the Schools Act when trying to help children.
Principals would have case studies to guide them.
The case studies included accounts of Grade 4 pupils locked in cupboards by other pupils during school hours, and of an abused Grade 2 pupil who was discovered teaching Grade 1 children how to have sex.