Bullying in schools is a topic that has been trending this past week as social media users viewed footage of the 15-year-old learner from a school in Limpopo, Lufuno Mavhung, being aggressively assaulted by another learner.
The country was soon after saddened by the news that Lufuno had subsequently died. This as a result of suicide. The suspect was thereafter arrested on charges of assault.
In 2018, Bloemfontein Courant reported about a matric learner, who, at the time, attended a local school and had decided to open a case against three learners who were allegedly bullying him.
Bloemfontein Courant took to the streets to speak to principals from local schools to find out what their take on bullying is and how they handle it at their respective schools. Here is what they had to say:
Acting principal Riekie Venter from Visser Primêre Skool, told the publication that they take bullying at the school very seriously. According to her, they speak to learners on a daily basis about the different types of bullying and the consciousness thereof. She explained they adopted a cop from a local police station and she had arranged for him to come out to speak to the learners on the dangers of bullying.
Raletebele Gabriel Daniels, principal of Castle Bridge School in Bloemfontein, explained that they have been fortunate at their school to not have had major bullying issues thus far. To avoid future issues, they deal with bullying by regularly inducting learners, from the beginning of the year, into policies that also cover bullying. During these inductions, bullying is thoroughly explained as well as the repercussions it will have on the bully. The school will take on the bully, depending on the different levels of the offence. They offer support to learners, such as having an in-house social worker who is accessible to all learners, teachers, and non-teaching staff.
The principal of Hoërskool Sentraal, Du Toit Neethling said even though they rarely have cases of bullying at the school, when it is brought to his attention, he ensures that it is addressed immediately. He added that they have created a safe space for learners to come forward and speak out when they are being bullied.
A Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at UFS, Emmanuel Mayeza, wrote an opinion piece in which he explained while the processes of the criminal justice system regarding Lufuno’s victimisation are underway, effective prevention programmes are also required in order to stop bullying at schools. He said such programmes must be designed with the view to empower everyone at school with skills and knowledge on how to prevent bullying from happening, and how to react appropriately when bullying is witnessed or reported.