BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
A FEW days ago, a video of Waddilove High School pupils beating a fellow pupil for not wearing a mask caused an uproar on social media.
It was heartbreaking for many parents and guardians to watch as the boy was pummelled while he lay defenceless.
Bullying has become widespread in most schools over the years.
In 2012, the body of a 13-year-old boy was found floating in a pool at Prince Edward School in Harare with suspicions that he was beaten to death before being thrown into the pool to mask the callous murder.
This bad boy behaviour reared its ugly head again at the same school in 2020 when Form Four pupils were seen kicking a Form Three boy in the face while others watched, with some recording the heinous act.
In the latest Waddilove incident, many people are venting their anger through social media platforms and questioning how such heinous acts continue to rise at schools.
While the blame was laid squarely on the bullies and their guardians for not instilling discipline in the children, many also queried the role of school authorities in stamping out the problem.
Bullying, mostly at boarding schools has become rampant and a serious threat to students’ learning environment.
The effects of bullying can have severe psychological damage on the victims.
While Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema has implored schools to carry out anti-bullying campaigns and put in place anti-bullying mechanisms, these have not yielded much.
Last year following the Prince Edward incident Minister Mathema said: “Nobody in Zimbabwe should be bullied for whatsoever reason.”
He urged teachers and school heads to set an example by making sure perpetrators were punished.
But parents have heaped the blame on school authorities for failing to adequately deal with the scourge.
A guardian of a pupil, who was bullied at Mutero School in Gutu, Masvingo, is yet to get justice for the horrific acts perpetrated against her nephew.
She said her nephew was assaulted by Upper Six students on December 12 2020 over a cellphone.
“Three boys dragged him to the fields, beat him with sticks and then attempted to drown him in a nearby dam. He had to fight and run for his life. He reported the matter to the teacher-in-charge and headmaster,” she said.
The matter was reported to the police and the bullies were released into the hands of the headmaster who refused to expel them on the basis that they were writing final examinations.
“We are deeply agrieved that the school did nothing about this. Our child suffered physically and emotionally.
“We have a medical report from a doctor in Gutu confirming injuries. It was all unfair,” she said.
They also reported the matter to the Catholic Archdiocese in Harare but they were referred to the Masvingo Archdiocese.
“They said that they don’t cover matters from another province and could not help.”
The family is saddened that the bullies escaped with no corrective action taken against them.
“It is painful indeed. School authorities are not playing their role in ensuring discipline and order in schools.
“Such behaviour should not be tolerated and students should be expelled,” said the guardian.
“Parents need to stop pretending that kids are not capable of such bullying because that’s encouraging bad behaviour. Children should be disciplined from home and schools.
“I don’t want to bring in the discussion on corporal punishment but if this will help to discipline our children then we need to re-introduce it in schools,” she said.
Various studies have been carried out in Zimbabwe to measure the extent of bullying at some high schools.
Results of one such study published in the Journal of Social Sciences indicated that there was bullying at high schools enough to warrant an intervention model.
Researchers noted that the country will never be spared some of the atrocities committed by bullys if measures are not taken to curb the vice.
“The Education ministry would do very well to have a second look at bullying and come up with an intervention model.
“The time to take action is now and the sooner we formulate and implement an intervention model as a matter of urgency, the better our situation will be. Action without delay will be our best way forward in an attempt to curb bullying which is rife in high schools,” the study report read in part.
Another study carried out in 2018 revealed that bullying instilled fear in victims and violent acts of bullying were determined by gender.
Boys were found to be more exposed to physical bullying while the girl child is affected by indirect bullying such as emotional and psychological attacks.
The absence of teachers, who act as guardians in the school environment, increases the chances of bullying.
Last year at the height of a teachers’ strike, more cases of bullying were reported.
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Published at Sun, 17 Jan 2021 23:09:00 +0000