Source: Bullying rears ugly head in schools again | The Herald
LAST week, a dark cloud covered the Saudan family in Bulawayo following the death of their 15-year-old son, Jayden who committed suicide after complaining of bullying at his school.
Jayden, who was a Form Three pupil at Hamilton High School in Bulawayo, drank a pesticide last Thursday at his family home in Montrose suburb.
He succumbed to the poison the following day at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) where he had been admitted.
Jayden lived with his grandmother Mrs Sarah Saudan and his siblings Jada and Jody. His father is based in the United Kingdom.
This latest incident came barely a month after another Hamilton High School learner fatally stabbed a Founders High School pupil, Wayne Ndlovu (16).
Wayne was pronounced dead upon arrival at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH). Two boys from Hamilton High School were arrested in connection with Wayne’s death and one of them has since appeared in court facing murder charges. The learner’s death was a culmination of a series of turf wars pitting pupils from various schools in the city.
Bullying and harassment have long been burning topics among students in schools across Zimbabwe.
There are many cases of bullying in our schools and sadly at times school authorities actually sweep them under the carpet.
Already, some schools here in Harare are being fingered in cases of bullying.
Bullying is a form of aggressive behaviour in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words, or more subtle actions.
The bullied individual typically has trouble defending him or herself and does nothing to “cause” the bullying.
Recently, President Mnangagwa said there is no place for bullying at the country’s schools and parents must take a leading role to ensure their children respect fellow students at learning institutions.
This came as the country has recorded an increase of worrisome cases of bullying some of which have resulted in learners taking their lives, while others drop from school altogether.
In his remarks at the inaugural ED Mnangagwa Business Summit in Harare, the President said such tragic incidents have no place in the country.
“We have several cases of bullying now in schools, both in boarding schools and day schools. You as parents, we want you to educate and counsel our children to respect each other. We have cases where children have lost lives because of bullying. We also have a second challenge of drug abuse, I have given instruction to police kuti mukawana mwana akastika kandai mu police, paanopetenuka moti wakastika nei (lock up youths who are high and after they are sober quiz them)” the President said.
The country has been under a miasma of drug abuse with networks of peddlers, mules, and drug lords enticing young people to take drugs such as the highly addictive crystal methamphetamine, commonly referred as mutoriro.
However, President Mnangagwa’s administration has taken measures to ameliorate the situation and save a generation that is seemingly given to illegal toxic and addictive substances.
In an interview yesterday, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi on bullying, they were conducting awareness campaigns countrywide targeting schools.
“We are conducting awareness campaigns countrywide and law week some of our teams were in Bulawayo engaging schools. Basically we are urging children to exercise responsible behaviour and that they should focus on learning. If they have any problems or challenges that they are facing, they should seek counselling.
“We are working together with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in various provinces,” he said.
He expressed concern over some of these cases which were not being brought to the attention of the police but they will surface on social media, forcing law enforcement agents to react.
Secretary general for the Association of School Heads Mr Munyaradzi Majoni said they were aware that children were being exposed to bullying and in some cases because of the advent of technology especially social media and unwanted sights.
“However, as school heads we are against bullying.
“And every school has a policy which discourages bullying countrywide. These policies should be followed.
“To totally eliminate bullying, we want every stakeholder to be involved, including parents since charity begins at home,” he said.
National Association of Primary Schools chairperson Mrs Cynthia Khumalo said bullying was most rampant in secondary schools and in primary schools, there were only a few cases.
“What we have noticed is that in primary schools, some of these little boys can carry dangerous weapons such as screw drivers. But however we have some counselling sessions that we conduct in assemblies, almost four times a week and even in classes we talk about those issues,” she said.
Mrs Khumalo expressed concern over the recent court cases in which teachers appeared for administering moderate corporal punishment for disciplinary purposes upon any minor male pupil or student.
She said some of these laws had destroyed their systems as most children were no longer listening to their teachers because of that and this needs a holistic approach.
A Harare parent, Mr Fungai Chasi said bullying has never been a good thing at all and both the government and schools should do more in addressing this issue.
“The headmasters need to do more or implement more protocols to safeguard children from being bullied by others because in most cases some of them will fear to go to schools. This has to stop.
“And also children who bully others tend to carry that mentality and even after school. Some of them will even go to the extent of abusing drugs and being involved in criminal activities,” he said.
Mr Chasi said the Government through the ministry should also come up with some pieces of legislation that safeguard innocent children from being bullied.
In March last year, parents with children doing Form One at Kutama College were living in fear for their children’s safety as they are alleging that they are being bullied and tortured by school prefects.
According to a letter written to Lordship Bishop Diocese of Chinhoyi Raymond Mupandasekwa by one parent, details of the alleged gruesome torture, suggests that the rookies are being subjected to inhumane treatment such as being forced to crawl around their hostel corridors more than 10 times.
While the Government has passed a law against corporal punishment, the Form Ones are not spared as they are said to have been physically assaulted by the prefects using bare hands and belts.
The parent further alleges that the students wrote an anonymous letter to the headmaster, Mr Mukoyi reporting one of the prefects’ behaviour but no action was taken.
Another parent from Chinhoyi, Memory Chitiyo said her child got a knee injury after having been forced to crawl around the sports ground.
He was also battling tonsillitis after he and other boys were forced to lie down half-naked in the courtyard while they got rain-soaked.