Johannesburg - Gauteng is taking a tough stand against teachers who unleash corporal punishment on pupils, to help prevent schools from turning into mini-battlefields.
Experts are warning that if not nipped in the bud, incidents of violence could have lifelong effects on teachers and pupils.
In the latest video that emerged, a disabled pupil from Adelaide Tambo School for the Physically Challenged was assaulted by a food handler and a bus driver.
The video captured from the pupil transport shows the food handler assaulting the pupil on the bus. The pupil is then removed from the vehicle by the driver.
In a statement, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi confirmed that a criminal case against the food handler was opened and she was now out on bail. The bus driver was suspended on Monday.
Read: Staff member suspended for assaulting pupil in Soweto
Lesufi said: “We are disappointed about this incident; extra care must be afforded to learners with disabilities. It is shocking to see the escalating incidents of assault taking place in our schools. As a department, we will act vigorously in making sure that the perpetrators face the might of the law.”
Done and dusted. The lady is removed and the driver is also out! We can't tolerate misconduct at all! https://t.co/f92jYNDMp8
Educational psychologist Sara Blackie said that in the short term, pupils might not be motivated to go to school or to achieve academically.
“Violence directed to the kids often makes them feel intimidated, and going to school will be a difficult situation for them. And if the violence comes from the teacher, they don’t know who to speak to," Blackie said.
"If the violence comes from the teacher, children are more likely not to want to go to school, and it will impact on them educationally. It is also very challenging because you don’t know who to talk to.”
She said the effects of the violence were not felt only by the victims, but by other pupils as well.
Blackie noted: “The other difficulty is the other kids who observe. They have transitional trauma. They would learn helplessness because they feel it is wrong, but there is nothing you can do That learnt helplessness will be in their lives with everything,” she said.
Corporal punishment has been outlawed in schools for a number of years but there have been videos of pupils being assaulted by teachers in classrooms.
In another video that surfaced in KwaZulu-Natal, a teacher is seen viciously caning two schoolgirls in a classroom. The teacher pulls and canes one of the girls, who is crying, and then pulls back the other girl, who is trying to leave the classroom, and assaults her as well. The teacher has since been suspended.
Blackie said teachers were resorting to corporal punishment because they felt they had no other options.
The South African Council of Educators' 2015-2016 annual report indicated that the Western Cape had the highest number of assault or corporal punishment cases, at 171. It was followed by KwaZulu-Natal at 30 and Gauteng at 19.
“Teachers might feel there is no other way to get through to children. Sometimes there might be a correlation between how those adults were taught and brought up,” Blackie said.
“Discipline starts off at home. Teachers feel that it’s all on them, but parental caregivers must also play their role. It is important to talk to your child and discuss consequences,” she said.