Bullying: "It's the teachers' responsibility"
Our readers respond to the bullying incident at a Western Cape school.
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Last week we published an article about a 13-year-old boy needing reconstructive surgery after being bullied at school. See how our readers responded below: 

I would sue!

Bullying in any way is unacceptable. I had to remove my child from a government school in grade 3 because he was being bullied by a child who had failed the same grade twice. I wrote letters to the school. I even went and gave private art lessons to both children to try and build a better relationship between them. It did not help and the school REFUSED to act. Incidentally the child was from a family more well off than ours and his father refused to discipline his child.

I ended up home-schooling my child but I am still disgusted by these accounts of bullies that get away with it. The victim should NOT be the one that has to leave. Bullies must be charged and removed from the school to learn that their behaviour is unacceptable and that there are consequences in life for such offences.

I would definitely sue the school for neglecting to take care of this child that was entrusted to their care, and I would sue the bully and his parents as well. Unacceptable!

-Anonymous

My son now suffers a neck and back problem

I believe that schools where bullying is not properly addressed should be named and shamed, and headmasters should be subjected to disciplinary action. We had to remove our son from a school when he was only 8 years old after we were threatened with legal action if we should take the matter further. Teachers openly lied about what was happening and accused my son of lying, despite a doctor's and a psychologist report.

We reported several incidents to the police. The principal lied to them with a straight face. We were unable to contest them in court as we just did not have the funds available. My son is now 11, and is still struggling to come to terms with what happened to him; he is also still having trouble regaining his self-esteem. Principals and teachers guilty of allowing bullying belong in jail.

My son is still battling a neck and back problem after being thrown against walls and cement platforms on several occasions. He will live with this and the memory of being bullied for the rest of his life. Yet the teachers got away with it and the principal is now enjoying retirement.

- Kudub

I was bullied as a child

I am a 36-year-old father of two small children. My eldest (my son) has just started school this year. When I read this article about the child who was bullied, old memories flooded back. You see, I was bullied as a youngster. But more about my background later.

Ideally bullying is something that should be addressed immediately. Teachers have the audacity to complain about how underpaid and under appreciated they are (and the vast majority of them love to strike when their unions tell them to) but when it comes to actually teaching and looking after the children in their care, most can't be bothered. Most just come in, and go about the motions. No stress at all for them. Only a few teachers actually care about the students they teach. (I worked in a public school for a few months so I know what I'm talking about.)

Teachers are also quick to pass the buck to the parents of students when things go wrong, often saying that they (the teachers) are not their parents and are quick to lecture parents about how they should raise their children.

Children can easily sense when a teacher isn't interested in doing his/her job properly. That's when they start misbehaving. That same teacher will then say the kids are bad and blame the parents. A good teacher is a good leader. If the teacher is dedicated then the kids will listen.

No question, if bullying occurs at schools, it's the teachers' responsibility to ensure that it is dealt with decisively and immediately. There should be harsher punishments being meted out.

When repeated bullying occurs and a child gets hurt, it's the teachers and principal that need to be held accountable. But yet, when I read news articles about bullying, it is often reported that schools either have no knowledge of bullying (which is either a lie or negligence on their part as far as I'm concerned) or they won't comment.

Enough is enough, I say. Teachers need to be held accountable.

My entire high school career was horrific, to say the least. Despite complaining to my teachers and parents, nothing was done. It impacted my grades and my self-confidence and really set me back in my young adult life. It's only after meeting my wife in my late 20's that I actually came out of my shell and spread my wings.

Today I'm well on my way to completing my MBA and I'm more successful than most of the kids I schooled with, including the ones that bullied me.

I can honestly say that only 3 teachers in my entire schooling career were really dedicated to their jobs.

I know the damage that bullying can do to a child in the long run. It's important that all parties (parents and teachers) work together to ensure that the students are free to express themselves and learn without fear.

If my son or daughter is bullied, I will follow the proper channels but if nothing is done, I might be tempted to take physical action myself against the negligent teachers and the bully in question. Yes, I would probably get into trouble, but if it means that I've spared my children from the nightmare that I went through then so be it.

But then, I should not have to take such drastic action in the first place.

Teachers need to be knocked down a peg or two and I think that the best way to improve performance is for teachers to be paid according to how many children actually pass in their respective classes. If a class has a high pass rate then the teacher deserves his or her salary. If the pass rate is low, then pay the teacher less! This would force teachers to be more involved with the children in their care and would limit the cases of bullying in schools.

- Anonymous

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