School refusing to act on repeated bullying, says mom

The mother of a Grade 4 learner at Rondebosch East Primary School says her son is being bullied.

The mother of a Grade 4 learner at Rondebosch East Primary School says her son is being bullied.

Published Sep 14, 2023


THE mother of a 10-year-old Grade 4 learner at Rondebosch East Primary School is outraged at the alleged repeated bullying her son has had to suffer, coming home with a swollen face on two separate occasions.

Now the child, who suffers from depression and anxiety, does not want to return to school. She said they found him hiding in the toilet every day after school.

Police spokesperson Joseph Swartbooi confirmed that a case of assault concerning an incident in July was under investigation.

“The circumstances surrounding the incident cited in your enquiry are still under investigation. Reports suggest that a minor informed his mom that the suspect in the matter pushed the victim and hit him in his face while on the premises of an institute of learning. In the process he sustained injuries. Lansdowne police registered a case of assault common for further investigation,” he said.

Detailing what her child has been through, the Pelican Park mother said: “At the end of the first term this Grade 7 girl hit him, and I reported it to the teachers. Nothing came of it until she hit him again at the start of the second term, and we opened a case. The school would not let us know who the girl was, but she went through a disciplinary hearing and she got community service and she has to attend anger management classes.”

However, according to the parent, the bullying did not stop there.

“Then two Fridays ago, they said he got hurt at school. His wrist was severely swollen, the school said the toilet door knocked against it, but when his father went to check he could not see how it was possible for the door to slam on his wrist so hard. Thankfully his arm was not broken, but the swelling was bad.

“Now last week, on September 7, he came home with another blue and swollen face, after Grade 5 boys assaulted him. I feel they are not doing a thorough investigation to stop it completely. I want the school to take it seriously, they campaign every other Monday that the children must wear blue shirts for their anti-bullying campaign, but why is this happening repeatedly? I feel so bad that I force him to go to school. I have to fight every morning, he just wants to stay at home,” the parent said.

The Western Cape Department of Education (WCED) said anti-bullying programmes were part of the district intervention, and the circuit manager would follow up with the school to ascertain the relevant information.

“Bullying is taken very seriously by the Western Cape Education Department, and schools must implement disciplinary action should learners transgress their codes of conduct. The school has indicated that they thoroughly investigated each of the parent’s complaints, and interventions have been put in place,” said WCED spokesperson Millicent Merton.

“The learner has been in fights with various other learners at the school. The school has put interventions in place to address the behaviour of the learners, including that of the alleged victim. Disciplinary action is taken against learners who transgress the school’s code of conduct; counselling support is made available to both the alleged victim/s and alleged perpetrator/s.”

Child Protection Hotline managing director Danie van Loggerenberg said bullying was a massive problem, and there were children who committed suicide because of it.

“Schools are not dealing with it effectively, they are more concerned about the school’s reputation than helping the child. They have a protocol they must follow when reported, but they don’t always do it. They try to sort it out in-house and convince the kids as young as 10 and 11 that the problem is sorted out.

“Now when it happens again the child will not go back to the teacher and would rather suffer in silence, and that can lead to suicide. It’s disappointing after 13 years of working in this space that schools are still refusing to accept they have bullying problems. If a child tried to commit suicide, the principal will tell you there’s no problem at that school. Not all children have a relationship at home so they are very vulnerable, and then they no longer see grown-ups as a protection,” Van Loggerenberg said.

However, he said the matter could be addressed.

“We need to have open, honest and frank conversations. Everybody is now portrayed as good, brilliant, happy – which is not true, it is falsified. Once we go back to a place of being honest, tell a child you're being a bully and that is wrong, we can get to a place of setting a certain standard of acceptable behaviour. I teach children that yes you’ve got rights, but you’ve also got responsibilities,” Van Loggerenberg added.

Cape Times