A writer says there was nothing racial in the ugly conflict between the teacher and pupil at Sans Souci Girls’ High School in Cape Town.
There are many widely disparate views on the altercation between a schoolgirl and her teacher at Sans Souci Girls’ High School in Cape Town, depending on the backgrounds of individuals making the comments and how they perceive the incident.

Often, comments lack the element of objectivity required to regard them as being fair.

I watched the video and * decided to look at the situation as objectively as possible before commenting about it. One thing is clear - this is not a racist issue.

Just because people involved in a dispute belong to different race groups, doesn’t mean the reason for the dispute is racial.

A learner was found using a phone in class, and the teacher took the phone away and asked the pupil to leave. The pupil became passively defiant and refused to listen. The teacher raised her voice and entered into a verbal duel with the defiant child.

The child’s attitude affected the teacher’s ego because the teacher felt that her authority was being undermined. The pupil sat defiantly in her chair. She did not feel embarrassed or walk out. The teacher tried to demonstrate her authority to show her who was boss by pulling the desk. Like an angry child who lost her dummy, the learner snapped and pushed the desk into the teacher.

That was enough to trigger the teacher’s unbridled and pent-up anger, and she slapped the child.

The teacher could have dealt with the situation better if she had handled it in a calmer manner and with discretion.

In situations like these, we must remember that raising one’s voice does not solve the problem; it merely escalates into violence.

By allowing her anger to get the better of her, the teacher opened herself to being charged for child abuse.

The courts are clear about the use of violence as a means to resolve disputes. In marital conflicts, men are strongly advised not to beat their wives if they feel they are being unfairly provoked by their partners. Infidelity and cheating are no grounds for violence and murder, no matter how humiliated and angry the victim feels. The teacher will have no leg to stand on to defend herself.

In this instance, the child can’t be the only rebellious child because many successful adults, have been rebels as teenagers, so we must stop being too judgmental about the child.

The child needs to be counselled and groomed.

Anyone blaming parents for not disciplining their children needs to have a rebellious child to know how difficult it is to raise such a child.

Many parents are forced to seek professional help when they cannot cope with difficult children, so blaming parents and accusing them of being derelict is a bit glib. The teacher could have taken the phone from the pupil and addressed the matter later, instead of taking on a pugilistic stance and making a spectacle of herself in front of the whole world through a video taken by another child in the class. She has turned this little incident into a mini Hollywood drama.

The teacher, being the adult, should have been the more mature one and restrained her anger. The teacher lost it and the wheels came off.

The courts are not ideal places to resolve these type of issues. We need good mediators. If the issue is left to the courts to resolve, it will polarise the school on two levels - racial on the one hand and teacher versus pupil on the other.

The child is going to be demonised and demoralised and possibly become a wreck after this incident. The teacher could become depressed and lose her job for child abuse.

A good mediator could use diplomacy to bring about a win-win situation for both.