Lufuno’s death graphically illustrates the deadly nature of bullying
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By Farouk Araie
The tragic and untimely death of Limpopo learner Lufuno Mavhunga, a victim of school bullying, graphically illustrates the deadly nature of the bullying menace.
A young 15-year-old girl committed suicide to end her constant agonies at the hands of a sadistic bully.
Intimidation at schools has become a vexing issue. It is a sensitive subject that provokes anxiety because it arouses emotions and has negative images which require courage to face it squarely.
To admit to the existence of learner violence in schools, traditionally a place of learning and growth, is particularly painful. As a consequence, violence often clips out of the official agenda and public debates on education.
Schools are meant to be safe zones, not war zones. Schools of our past were imagined as havens of quaint custom and benign behaviour, in vivid contrast to the perception of today’s drug and violence-ridden conflict arenas as teachers daily risk their lives and worthy children cannot get an education. It is indeed a monumental tragedy that unruly scholars revel in the pain, disaster and despair of others.
Student violence in our schools has reached alarming levels. Without firm discipline, a new culture of thuggery will envelope our educational institutions. There is hardly any issue in education that has generated more serious discussion and raised more concern and threat in schools today. The escalating menace of violence, crude bully tactics and intimidation in our institutions of learning is a ticking time-bomb.
Teaching is different from what it used to be. Today’s transgressions include physical and verbal violence, incivility and, in some schools, substance abuse and assault. The result is that many teachers spend an inordinate amount of time and energy managing classroom conflicts.
What is perhaps most alarming is that violence is becoming so commonplace in many schools that it is considered the norm rather than the exception. Exposure to violence obliterates or obscures the boundaries that society has created between good and evil, public and private, shame and pride. It is imperative that those in charge of education remove violent learners from class to increase the quality and quantity of learning for motivated and well-behaved students. Scholars must take responsibility for their behaviour by accepting the consequences for their actions.
Parental discipline is sadly lacking or non-existent. Almost imperceptibly the term discipline has acquired negative connotations in parenting culture. Parents automatically assume that their unruly children are always innocent, their teachers are irresponsible and malevolent agents are at fault. Scores of distressed teachers are leaving the profession, vowing never to return. Should this tragic trend continue, society will inherit a generation of semi-literate and under-educated pupils who will be unable to compete in a world driven by 21st-century technology.