Violence at schools has become a global issue. It is a sensitive subject that provokes anxiety and arouses emotions. One needs courage to face the negative images coming out of schools.
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 era were imagined as havens of quaint custom and benign behaviour, in vivid contrast to the perception of todays drug and violence ridden hellholes, 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. With dagga now being legalized under certain conditions, 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 South African schools today.
The escalating menace of violence and drugs 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, robbery, assault and recently, murder. 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, so graphically choreographed on television obliterate or obscure the boundaries that society has created between good and evil, public and private, shame and pride. It is imperative that MEC’s 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 of their children is sadly lacking or non-existent. Almost imperceptibly the term discipline has acquired negative connotations in the culture of South African parenting.
Parents automatically assume that their unruly children are always innocent, their teachers are irresponsible and malevolent agents who are at fault.
Scores of distressed teachers are leaving the profession, vowing never to return. Should this tragic 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.