More than a million learners subjected to violence at school

12 October 2017 - 15:52 By Bianca Capazorio
Corporal punishment in any form is against the constitution.
Corporal punishment in any form is against the constitution.
Image: iStock

More than one million school pupils experienced violence such as bullying‚ corporal punishment or assault at school‚ the Department of Basic Education told Parliament.

Briefing the basic education committee on safety in schools‚ the department's director for school safety Paseka Njobe said that 22.2 percent of pupils had experienced any form of violence in schools while 20.9 percent had experienced online violence.

“The 22.2 percent translates to 1 020 597 secondary school learners who had fallen victim to some sort of violence at school in the past 12 months‚” the department said. About 20% of pupils had also experienced online violence‚ such as harassment or bullying.

The data comes from a 2012 study conducted by the Centre of Justice and Crime Prevention. The study has so far been conducted every five years‚ and the department is hoping to conduct a fresh one soon.

Njobe told the committee that schools in communities with social problems like drugs and poverty had higher rates of violence‚ as did those which were poorly managed. He said that bullying remained a major problem in schools‚ but increasing numbers could also be a result of better reporting rates.

According to their data‚ 18 percent of pupils reported being bullied on a weekly basis. This in turn had an impact on their academic careers - those who experience no bullying were found to outperform those who were regularly bullied by as many as 68 points in mathematics.

The 2015 General Household Survey reveals that 11.3 percent of pupils experienced corporal punishment at school. KwaZulu Natal was the leading province for corporal punishment in 2015‚ with just over 20 percent of learners having experienced corporal punishment at school. The national average is 11.3%. The Western Cape‚ at 1.2 percent‚ was the lowest.

Corporal punishment in any form is against the constitution.

The committee also heard that the classroom was the primary site for school violence‚ with 54% of sexual assaults and 51% of physical assaults taking place in the classroom. A further 13.2 percent of sexual assaults took place on the playing fields‚ and 12.5% were committed in school toilets.

Director general for the department Hubert Mweli said school violence “undermines the core business of the department‚ which is teaching and learning”. He said “the social issues are coming fast and thick”‚ impacting the department's financial and human resource allocations. - TimesLIVE