Cape Town 080822- Mia Godfrey-Thom is the victim of bullying in "One False Move" a collaboration between St. Cyprians School and Cape Town Opera. Photo Daylin Paul reporter Nathalie CA

Durban - More than half of the children interviewed in a recent survey on bullying said they had experienced it at school and 40 percent wanted the police to protect them.

Market research company Pondering Panda interviewed 2 068 pupils from across South Africa about bullying incidents they had encountered.

The results, released last week, showed that 56.8 percent felt they had been bullied at school, while 53.5 percent were fearful of being physically attacked by a fellow classmate.

A similar survey conducted by the company last month showed that pupils rated bullying as the biggest problem they faced at school, ranking it higher than a lack of toilet facilities, running tap water, and late-coming teachers.

The latest survey also revealed that 44.7 percent of pupils knew of classmates who brought guns, knives or other weapons to school, with the majority, 64.57 percent, believing the weapons were brought to bully other children.

Those interviewed who were from KZN answered above the national average, with 50.2 percent of the province’s pupils knowing of children bringing weapons to school.

Of the bullying experienced, 52.2 percent of respondents said they were teased and insulted, while 25.8 percent had been pushed, hit or beaten.

On who should protect pupils from bullying, 43.3 percent were emphatic that the police must be involved, while 26.1 percent wanted teachers to do more.

In the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study released late last year, similar results were noted, with more than half of South African pupils saying they were bullied weekly.

KZN Department of Education spokesman Muzi Mahlambi said bullying was not tolerated at schools, and the department would do whatever it could to root it out.

“Cases we are aware of we deal with firmly,” he said.

A problem the department faced, though, was the pupils’ fear of coming forward.

Mahlambi said there was a stigma attached to reporting bullying to a teacher.

The possibility of police keeping watch over classrooms was not something schools “had to have” Mahlambi said, but any cases that were criminal would see law enforcement being called in.

Of those interviewed by Pondering Panda, there was an even split between male and female with an age range of 13 to 24, while the race groups were “weighted to SA youth proportions”. - The Mercury