School cyber bullying victim urges KZN Education MEC to help
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DURBAN - A GRADE 10 schoolgirl’s family are appealing to Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu to intervene in a cyber bullying incident where the 16-year-old was allegedly attacked by her school mate.
The aunt, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the minor, told the Daily News on Monday that she had done everything possible for a Durban high school to act, but the principal apparently refused to intervene because the incident occurred outside of school.
The aunt said a pupil in the same school had made fun of the size of her niece’s breasts on the class WhatsApp group created by the pupils.
She said the pupils were chatting on the group and her niece said: “Let’s go to sleep guys because it’s late.”
In response, one of the pupils apparently said: “But it’s not all of us who had been carrying a load of big breasts the whole day.”
The schoolgirl apparently incited other pupils to also ridicule the 16-year-old. She said that while the incident did not take place at school, she expected school management to at least address the alleged bully and issue her with a warning.
The incident took place last year and after going to school twice without help the aunt opened a case of crimen injuria. But again she found no joy after the police told her the National Prosecuting Authority declined to prosecute because there was no prospect of conviction as the message was not specifically directed at her niece.
“I don’t understand why the NPA said this was not directed at my niece because in the message it was clear that (the schoolgirl) responded to my niece and she had a right to be offended because she had big breasts.
“The Education MEC is my last hope in this matter. I can’t just leave it hanging like this because it’s affecting my niece psychologically.
“She feels isolated at school because the bullying continues. After the case did not continue, the bully laughed at her and asked her what she was trying to do,” said the aunt.
The school attended to her niece on Friday after she broke down and cried at the office because her complaints were being ignored and no one was prepared to speak to her about the incident.
The aunt said the school had contacted her on Monday asking her to come in. “To my surprise instead of addressing the matter, the school had called a police officer to advise parents on what they must do if their cases were not attended to in a satisfactory manner.
“I feel undermined by the school’s insistence that it had nothing to do with the incident because it happened outside of school. I do not know why they called me if they were not going to address my problem,” said the aunt.
The school, despite promising to respond to questions, had not commented by the time of publication.
Education MEC’s spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa said it was unfortunate that this incident occurred, adding that the department promoted peace and harmony. “We will attend to this through our district office.”
Provincial police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala confirmed a case of crimen injuria was opened at uMlazi Police Station and that the matter was referred to the NPA for a decision and it had declined to prosecute.
Bullying has been a problem in many schools around the country.
Last month, a 14-year-old pupil from Mbilwi High School in Limpopo committed suicide after she was filmed being attacked by another pupil.
This prompted Parliament’s Basic Education Portfolio Committee to intervene, saying it would demand answers from the department about what it was doing to address bullying in schools.