The shocking video clip that has been circulating on social media, of a female learner degradingly, physically abusing another, who tried to shield herself from the beating, has left us repulsed. This incident, taking place between two Mathole High School learners, is yet another harrowing demonstration, this year alone, of the undesirable culture of bullying in our schools and in our broader society.
The United Democratic Movement Youth Vanguard (UDM Youth Vanguard) commends the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department’s suspension of two Mathole High School learners in relation to the incident, although we would like to understand why the second learner was suspended. We are also happy to hear that the victim, in particular, will receive counselling, that she has been advised of her rights and that she will be assisted in opening a case with the police.
Bullying is an increasingly prevalent problem in schools and the degree of violence is arguably escalating. Not only does bullying directly affect academic performance, but it also has long-term damaging effects on a child’s confidence and self-esteem. Consequently, bullying extends far beyond the academic scope as learners can also develop anger issues and are far too often driven to suicide.
It is for this reason that we call on the Department of Basic Education to take a long-term view in addressing all types of bullying in schools. An inclusive solution should include the implementation of a standardised anti-bullying policy for all schools and increased awareness campaigns, to teach learners, teachers and school governing bodies about bullying and its serious consequences.
The UDM Youth Vanguard denounces physical, emotional, verbal, cyber, sexual and prejudicial bullying and we stand with those who say that this undesirable culture has no place in our institutions of learning. Schools, universities, colleges and other places of learning should not be palaces of terror, but temples of learning where our youth are safe to fulfil one mission and that is to learn.
Moreover, we urge every young South African to speak up against bullying and to never be part of the problem, but to be part of the solution.
Mr Yongama Zigebe
UDM Youth Vanguard