Tackling bullying at schools is never easy; more often than not, it is difficult to prove and often it goes unreported due to fear of repercussion. Things become even more difficult when the school bully is your child’s teacher.
“Teachers who constantly pick on the same children, call them names, embarrass them in front of others, belittle and harass learners are no different from the bullies that you see on the playground,” says Dave Swart, High School Principal and youth counsellor of Burgundy Estate’s Riverside College. “As with many forms of abuse, adults know how to stay just on the right side of the line, so that when confronted about issues such as bullying, they are able to deny the allegations as their victims have little or no proof.”
Offering pre-primary, primary and high school education in Cape Town’s Northern suburbs, Riverside College has taken a firm stance against bullying. Educational workshops on the topic are often held, kindness is brought into the school curriculum and in the beginning of the school year both learners and teachers signed a manifesto against bullying:
I am not a bully!
I will RESPECT others and treat them in the way I would like to be treated. I will show this in the manner in which I deal with them.
I will be PATIENT with others and help where needed as I respect the fact that we all do things at a different pace.
I will ACCEPT people as they are and I will not try to change them.
“Teachers are there to protect, guide and educate our children. They are the adults and primary caregivers at a school, they should know how to deal with issues in a mature manner when they arise,” says Swart.
While Swart acknowledges the challenges faced by some teachers in the classroom, he says that bullying, regardless of the circumstance, should never be permitted; “Lack of discipline, respect or work ethic, does not validate violent, passive aggressive behaviour. Destroying another person’s dignity and human spirit is never okay,” says Swart.
Teachers who bully was brought to light earlier this month when a Vaal educator was captured watching a learner being assaulted by another learner, he did nothing to stop the attack. The teacher has subsequently been served with a charge sheet and informed to appear before the Gauteng Department of Education for a disciplinary hearing. The same teacher was last year found guilty of assault against a learner and was given a final warning and a R6 000 fine.
Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications:
021 447 1082 / 082 824 8617
On behalf of Riverside College:
Director: Elana Edwards
High School principal: Dave Swart