Brutal school bullies caught on camera
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Durban - Three schoolgirls who bullied and assaulted a schoolmate by slapping her 40 times and kicking her in the stomach and groin four times were to learn their fate on Thursday after a school governing body tribunal.
The aggressors from Vukuzakhe Secondary School in uMlazi face expulsion. Their bullying, recorded by cellphone, also shows the victim being forcibly thrown to the floor twice.
The incident happened in September last year. They were recently suspended after the gut-wrenching, two-minute video of the relentless assault went viral on social media.
The video had 181 994 views on Facebook and 7 336 shares on Thursday morning.
The victim, a Grade 8 pupil at the time, was assaulted by her boarding school peers who were in Grade 10.
Education MEC Peggy Nkonyeni’s spokesman, Isaac Luthuli, said the behaviour of the bullies was a “barbaric act” and said the victim had been sent for counselling.
“We are not aware what the cause of the incident was, but we must condemn the behaviour in the strongest terms. It is a shameful, barbaric act and we can never condone such behaviour from people who are educated,” he said.
Luthuli said the three pupils appeared before a tribunal on Tuesday and said the school’s governing body would announce its decision on Thursday. He confirmed they were currently suspended.
Joan van Niekerk, president of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, said the war on bullying was not being won.
“In a society that is filled with violence, children imitate what they see. We are giving children the message that violence is okay,” she said.
South Africa had strict laws governing the exposure of pornography to children, but this was sorely lacking when it came to children being exposed to violence, she said.
“It is important to look at the child who is being bullied as they might grow up to be a bully,” van Niekerk said. But she also cautioned that bullies needed to be treated too.
Van Niekerk said children should be taught that resorting to violence was not the answer in disputes.
A senior education official, who spoke to the Daily News on condition of anonymity, said the matter had only been reported to the department last week and a report from the principal indicated that the school had been unaware of the incident until it was made aware of the video.
“The child did not report because she was scared. Then the video spread and the school eventually found out.
“That video was heart-wrenching, I could not stomach what I was watching. When you see such things happen you… watch as a parent. You ask yourself what would you have done if this was your child, what would you do?; how have we come to produce such cruel young children?” he said.
The senior official said the behaviour was not normal and the backgrounds of the three pupils needed investigation.
A pertinent question was whether they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the assault took place.
“Where were the security guards and the matron who are there to take care of the children?” he wondered.
The department was not aware of what had led to the assault, but it would appear that the victim had shunned the main aggressor - who referred to the victim in the video as her “play child”. The victim had apparently been turning away when she had called for her.
The victim is slapped constantly and asked to “admit” that she said “weh!” - in what can be only described as a dismissive gesture.
DA education spokeswoman, Mbali Ntuli, said the behaviour was “unacceptable” and she was concerned that bullying was becoming more prevalent in schools.
Ntuli called for the creation of a handbook that would educate pupils about bullying and its consequences.
She said the incident should be a lesson to parents to check up on their children’s well-being.