Schools reopen to mixed emotions

One fun moment for Zenzeleni Primary School children. Photo: Leseho Manala


Gauteng schools reopened for the third term on 17 July to mixed emotions among learners.

To go back to school with happy emotions after reuniting and continuing the fun with friends as they learn. Numerous others returned to resume their trepidation of dreaded bullying said to be a major challenge in the country’s schools. If left unattended, this fear, apprehension, anxiety and discomfort, will impact their self and emotional development, make them hate school, want to revenge and impede the achievement of all milestones essential for success in life.

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In a reality Check report of 2017, the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, alluded to the country’s learners as some of the worst bullied globally. Motshekga said the bullied children don’t perform well in class as they are depressed, unhappy and have low self-esteem. Also, they suffer from anxiety, depression and sometimes, resort to committing suicide.

The report found out that bullies:

  • Make fun of and called them names
  • Spread lies about them
  • Stop them from participating in games and activities
  • Steal from them
  • Hit or hurt them
  • Threaten them
  • Spread lies to embarrass them
  • Force them to do things they don’t want
  • Post embarrassing information about them online.

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According to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the online abuse called cyberbullying and which goes beyond the classroom involves:

  • Text messaging
  • Picture and video clips
  • Unsolicited phone calls and emails
  • Chat rooms and instant messaging
  • Websites and blogs
  • Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook
  • Internet gaming.

Also, cyberbullying includes sexting which involves sending nude or semi-nude pictures and videos and, sexually suggestive messages.

All these forms of bullying and abuse can result in the perpetrator being charged for:

  • Crimen injuria for the intentionally and seriously violation of the victim’s privacy and dignity
  • Assault for harming the victim’s bodily integrity’ or instilling fear in them
  • Criminal defamation for unlawful and intentional publication of details meant to injure the victim’s reputation
  • Extortion for pressurising a victim to act in the perpetrator’s interest.

According to the department, victims suffer from anxiety and depression and resort to committing suicide. Perpetrators of these abuses may be sued for damages and defamation, being fined or imprisoned or being placed in a register for sex offenders.

Details: Department of Basic Education 0800 202 933; Department of Justice and Constitutional Development 012 315 1111.


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