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In terms of the common law, the teacher has delegated and original authority over
learners. Original authority compels the teacher not only to take care of the welfare of
learners under his supervision, but he/she is also compelled to take adequate steps to
ensure that the process of education is continued and that the institution itself is
maintained (Bondesio et al 1995:55).

In his task of educating the learners, the teacher should ensure the safety of learners.
However, the safety of learners is not only the concern of the teacher. Time and again
there are media reports of assaults, violence and injuries of learners while they are at
school. The media reports indicate instances where teachers and principals are brought to
justice and sometimes found guilty of negligence and assault. Educators should know the
legal provisions pertaining to education and taking reasonable precautionary measures to
avoid lawsuits against them.

Teachers and principals of schools are involved in interrelationships with parents, the
community, learners, the state as an employer and the organised teaching profession. All
the above-mentioned parties have different views on education and learners, which
sometimes results in conflict. The law is applied to regulate relationships and to minimise
these conflicts (Beckmann et al 1995: 6).

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996 (Act No 108 of 1996) makes
schooling compulsory for all children between the ages of 7 and 15 years in South Africa.
However, the Right becomes meaningless unless we as teachers, parents, children,
citizens, community members, and government officials make the school environment
conducive for teaching and learning. Without a healthy and safe environment where
teaching and learning can flourish, schools are unable to provide an environment aimed at
developing the childs full potential, regardless of ethnic or social origin, gender,
disability, financial or other status.

Various studies and reports indicate that the form of violence can take is corporal
punishment, bullying, intimidation, fist fights, knife fights, theft, shootings, interpersonal
violence and rape. Indicates that there are five functional forms of violence within the
school environment:
- Physical assault between learners
- Sexual assaults perpetrated by boy learners on girl learners
- Assault (physical and sexual) by those outside of the school on learners and
- Teachers assault learners
- Learners assaulting teachers.

The impact of violence on youth as victims, witnesses of perpetrators, has a wide and
detrimental effect on schools, families, peer groups, communities and society as a whole.
The impact of such behaviour can be emotional, physical or financial as not only do the
individuals have to live with the consequences of the action, but also there are greater
community costs. For example, medical costs, repairs and maintenance to property, loss
of time, loss of learning time and opportunities, loss of community building and sharing,
as well as costs of policing, courts, detention facilities, rehabilitation and costs for a
restorative justice approach.

The persistence of media reports on the issue of lack of safety of learners in schools,
assaults, injuries, schools settings and violence lead to the conclusion that schools are
not as safe as they should be. Learners will learn only when they have a feeling of
protectedness, security and safety. According to Furlong and Morrison (1994: 147) the
research statistics on feelings of safety at schools based on their research were
summarised as follows:

20% of students reported that they felt afraid of being hurt or bothered at

40% of students reported they had stayed home from school during previous
months because of fear of being hurt at school.
15% of students reported often feeling afraid at school.
Of all the students who had previously been victimised at school, 47% felt that
they might be victimised again while at school.

From the above statistics, it can be deduced that if the schools are not safe, learners are
psychologically affected as well. They experience feeling of unprotectedness. Violence
which occurs in school, carrying of weapons by learners and unruly and unbecoming
behaviour of other learners is a reflection of what is happening in society and in the
school neighbourhood. The school and parent community should work together to create
peaceful schools.

1.1 Problem Statement

Sexual abuse of school children is reaching crisis proportions in South African schools.
Various initiatives have been implemented to deal with the problem, but how safe are our
children? Learners are being raped in school toilets, classrooms and teachers quarters.
Learners are not entirely safe in school corridors either, where they are sexually harassed
and verbally degraded. For many South African girls, violence and abuse are an
inevitable part of the school environment, which impeded their access to education.
Abused learners would leave school because of the shame of being called names and
tormented, by memories. Instead of a place of learning, the school becomes a place of

Without a healthy and safe environment where learning and teaching can flourish,
schools are unable to provide an environment aimed at developing the learners full
potential. From the above statement, the researcher will try to answer the following
What is the extent of sexual abuse in primary and high schools in Soshanguve?

What is the current safety plan and measures applied to ensure the safety of
learners in primary and high schools in Soshanguve (District N4) in Gauteng
Are there instances of behavioural problems of learners, e.g. bullying, aggression
and fights in schools, which disturb the psychological safety of other learners?

1.2 Aims and objectives of the study

The main aim of this research project was to investigate the extent of abuse of learners in
primary and high schools in Soshanguve in Gauteng Province.

Other objectives which were investigated included:

The extent to which the safety of learners is ensured in Soshanguve schools
Some school setting and features in Soshanguve schools which may pose
problems with regard to the safety of learners
The existence of bullying, fights and aggression on the part of learners that may
disturb the psychological safety of learners.
Current plans of the Department of Education in ensuring the safety of learners

The researcher will make informed recommendations on how to make schools safer for
effective learning at the end of this study.

1.3 Research Methods

1.3.1 Literature study

In this research project, a literature study was undertaken to gather relevant information
and to make a conceptual analysis of the issue of the safety of learners in both primary
and high schools in Soshanguve. The literature sources included amongst others,
textbooks, manuals, journal articles, theses and acts. Other sources like reports, official
minutes, written submissions, memoranda and newspaper articles were consulted.

A detailed study of literature on sexual abuse was made and the Acts which provide for
the protection and safety of learners, such as the following were consulted.

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996 (Act no 108 of 1996),
chapter 2, section 24, 28 and 29.
The literature study is chosen as a research method with the aim of clarifying aspects of a
problem and obtaining relevant information, determining facts and theories that serve as a
reflection and evaluation of literature related to the topic (Kgaphola 1993:5).

1.3.2 Empirical Research

A small-scale empirical research will be conducted. An empirical research means that

which is verifiable by observation. The methods of empirical research have built in
mechanisms which ensure that the procedures and results of the researcher are open to
scrutiny by his fellow professional (Behr 1988:5). The researcher will do a descriptive
research which is concerned with investigating possible cause and effect relationship by
observing and existing condition or state of affairs and searching back in time for
plausible casual factors. Descriptive research can be classified into three main types,
namely surveys, developmental studies, and case studies. A descriptive research is
concerned with conditions that exists, practices that prevail, beliefs and attitudes that are
held, processes that are ongoing, and trends that are developing. Descriptive research
precedes other types of research because before progress can be made in solving certain
problems one needs to know what the existing facts and prevailing conditions are (Behr

1.4 Delimitation of study

The research project will be conducted in Soshanguve (District N4) of Gauteng Province.
The researcher will conduct an investigation into extent of sexual abuse and the extent to
which the safety of learners is ensured in the primary and high schools in Shoshanguve.
The investigation will further focus on current safety plans, measures and rules which are

applied to ensure both the psychological physical safety of learners. Recommendations
will also be made to improve the present safety conditions in schools.

1.5 Definition of Concepts

Safety: It refers to freedom from danger or injury or affording security or not

exposed to risks (Netshitahame 1999:8). According to Cachalia, Cheadle, Hayson,
Maduma and Marais (1994:100) safety refers to an environment which is not
detrimental to ones well-being. For the purpose of this research project, safety
includes both physical and psychological safety. Physical safety is concerned with
protection from bodily harm. Psychological safety is concerned with the mental
state of being. Schools should provide learners with a feeling of secureness and
protectedness, that which is not being fearful of being threatened or physically
assaulted (Malesich 1994:38).

Learner: The Collins English Dictionary (1995:945) defines a learner as someone

who is being taught by another person, and is learning about a particular,
particularly a school child. According to the South African Schools Act (Act No.
84 of 1996) Section 1, a learner is any person receiving education or obliged to
receive education.

Rape: includes unwanted sexual intercourse arising from the use of or threats of
force, or the use of drugs or alcohol (Schwartz et al 1997:9).

Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse takes various forms and is perpetrated by both
learners and staff in schools. It ranges from sexual harassment, touching, and
verbal degration to rape and other forms of sexual violence (Roper 2001:11)

School management: principals manage schools as institutions for the realisation

of the functional tasks of the school, i.e teaching and learning. In order to manage
schools, principals should carry out certain management functions such as

planning, policy-making, organising, making decisions and leading within the
area of management. School management can therefore be defined as the work
and activities of all the management teams, with the aim of facilitating teaching
and learning (Netshitahame 1999:9).

Violence: within this context, violence is referred as the intentional use of

physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or
against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of
resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation
(Roper 2001:3).


In this chapter an outline of the research problem has been given. The aims and
objectives of the study, delimitation of the study area and the definition of
concepts were covered. The following chapter will focus on the research design
and methods




In chapter one the research problem, aims and objectives were outlined. Research
methods, the delimitation of the study area and the definition of concepts were also
discussed. In chapter two, the main emphasis is to determine the extent to which the
safety of learners is ensured in Soshanguve schools in Gauteng Province. The study
further attempts to assess the current state of safety plans and measures that are being
applied to create safe schools and to identify those who are involved in the plans.



According to Mouton and Marais (1990:32) design in research of a goal to planning and
design in the construction industry. The aim of the research design is to align the pursuit
of a goal with the practical considerations and limitations of the project. The research
design is therefore an exposition of the research project.

2.2.1 The interviews

The interview schedule is attached as appendix 1. Semi-structured and open-ended

questions were asked. The schedule in appendix 1, is divided into two sections. Section A
comprises of questions regarding physical facilities and school safety programmes.
Section B comprises of questions regarding the extent of sexual abuse in schools.

Except for its potential for subjectivity, higher probability of bias, higher cost and time
consuming nature, the interview has many advantages. According to McMillan and
Schumacher (1993:250) the major advantage of an interview over ordinary questionnaires

lies in its flexibility and adaptability. Such flexibility and adaptability enhances the
response rate. It also allows the researcher to probe deeper following the answer of a
respondent (Brynard and Hanekom 1997:32). If the interviewee consents, tape recordings
of the interviews can be made to enable the researcher to refer to the interviewees
original responses. According to Leedy (1993:195), there are very important steps to be
taken for successfully handling the interview as a technique for gathering data for ones
research study, such as,

1. Setting up the interview well in advance

2. Send the agenda of questions you will ask the interviewee
3. Ask the permission to tape the conference
4. Confirm the date immediately in writing
5. Send a reminder together with another agenda of questions ten days before the
6. Be prompt, follow the agenda, have a copy of your questions for the interview
in case he/she has mislaid his/her copy.

A letter requesting permission to interview principals was prepared and forwarded to

those selected schools. The letter explained the purpose of the interview and the period in
which the research should be completed.

2.2.2 Targeted Population

Soshanguve (District N4) has 83 schools of which 58 are high schools and 25 are primary
schools. Five principals out of 58 in high schools were randomly selected, and five
principals out of 25 in primary schools were randomly selected. The random sampling
technique was chosen because each school in the district has equal opportunity to be
included in the sample and there is the likelihood of the sample being representative of
schools in the whole district (McMillan and Schumacher 1993:1 61).

2.2.3 Administrative Arrangements

Permission to interview principals or deputy principals was obtained from the principals
of the selected schools. Interviews were conducted at a time suitable to the particular
principal or deputy principal.

2.2.4 Presentation method

The procedure used to report the summary of the interview responses followed from the
questionnaires. The responses from ten principals were classified under two groups for
every division of the report. Names of the schools were changed to hide their identity.


These were schools that planned, managed and maintained safe and peaceful school
environment. These schools have various programmes devised to make schools a safe
learning environment and place of peace. The schools were rated as good.


These were schools that had programmes, which were not clearly defined. Some of the
schools did not plan for safe schools because they lack the knowledge to plan and apply
programmes effectively.

During the interview the data was collected and selected, and the report of the summary
of the different responses are given below in paragraph 2.3. A summary of the findings
will be given in chapter 6.


2.3.1 School physical facilities

Group 1

Ntswaki high, Tsheko high and Dube primary schools had enough classrooms to
accommodate all learners. The classrooms are locked everyday after school by either a
prefect or security guard. The schools are fenced with burglar bars. Classrooms in these
schools do not pose any safety threats. The principal in Tsheko high school reported that
the school gates are locked after 7h45 every morning to prevent unruly gangsters to enter
the premises during school hours and to discipline those who come to school late.

These schools have playgrounds because they have big schoolyards. The playgrounds are
well maintained. There are also no safety threats posed by toilets. Toilets are kept clean
by learners themselves and locked everyday after school. These toilets are safe because of
the fencing around the schools. The schools are safe except for incidence of drug abuse
and alcohol. The schools that experience the problem of drug abuse are, Tsheko high and
Memezo high school. The principal of Memezo high School reported that older boys
smoke Marijuana and a drug called Shaba which they mix together with drinks during
lunch time. It is also given to unsuspecting young boys and girls. The drug makes them
weak and some would collapse at school. Learners also cross-busy roads or streets to
schools that may be unsafe to them. Community members sometimes volunteer to help
them cross safely. Learners are also taught road signs.

Group 2

Schools in this group do not have enough classrooms to accommodate all learners, which
results in overcrowding. These are schools such as, Ntule primary, Sebone high, Matu
primary and Lesedi primary school. Some of the classrooms have no doors and windows
because of theft and vandalism. School B reported that doors and windows are being

removed by people living in shacks nearby the school to expand their shacks or build

These three schools; Ntule primary, Matu primary and Lesedi primary do not have school
playgrounds. They use community playgrounds, which are not safe because of some
unruly community members. These playgrounds are also poorly maintained and far from
the schools. Learners are often injured and there are often fights during matches. Ntule
primary school reported that in 1999 a 16-year old girl was stabbed by a gang member for
refusing to leave with him during a game between two neighbouring schools. She further
mentioned that teachers are also not safe on these playgrounds because of threats if they
try to protect the learners.

Toilets in Sebone high and Matu primary school pose safety threats. Their toilets do not
lock and the seats are old and rusty with water spilling on the floor. Toilets are not safe
especially for girls because they are also used by outsiders. Sebone high school reported
that a 12-year-old girl was raped in 2002 during sports day in the toilet. Nobody could
hear the girl screaming because of the noise from cheering on the school ground. Toilets
in Sebone high school are old with doors fallen off and no windows. Learners often
accompany each other to visit the toilet so that one should guard at the door. Three of
these schools are built near the bush, which pose a threat to learners. Two schools
reported that their learners were attacked and raped after school and the rapist were never

2.3.2 School Safety programmes

Group 1

In group 1 category, two schools( Ntswaki high and Dube primary school) were found to
have a mission statement. Tsheko high, Memezo high and Dube had school safety
policies which were drawn with the help of the school governing bodies. The issue of
safety of learners was addressed and is evident by the following statement on the policy
of Dube high school, The school cares a lot about the health of its learners, therefore it

will not allow learners to develop the deadly habit of indulging in the use of drugs,
alcohol and smoking. The policy is being communicated to parents during school
meetings, as well as during registration periods by school Memezo high and Dube
primary. Tsheko high, Memezo high and Tlamelo high schools have put in writing the
school safety rules. The example of such from Tlamelo high school No drugs, alcohol,
and weapons are allowed in the school. Parents are also aware of the rules.

Ntswaki hig and Tlamelo high school have a system of classroom safety which are
written on charts displayed on the walls. The examples of the classroom safety rules from
Tlamelo high school is Learners who disrespect and abuse other verbally or physically
will be punished. These rules are often read to learners. Ntswaki high and Tlamelo
primary school have safety committees to assist in dispute resolutions between learners
themselves and between learners and teachers. The dispute resolution procedures are

Group 2

Schools in this category have neither the mission statement nor aims and objectives
which relate to the management of safety and learners. Most schools have no clear
policies for their schools. The school governing bodies lack the capacity to draw policies.
Principals laid down safety rules in Ntule and Tlamelo high schools and other learners
were not aware of the rules.

Ntswaki high, Sebone high, Matu primary and Masebe high school had no written school
safety rules. The rules were only known after an offence was committed, which were also
not clear. The schools had no classroom rules for learners safety. Tlamelo high, Sebone
high and Masebe high do not have safety committees but have teachers delegated to
handle any safety matter. The rest of the schools have neither a safety committee nor
individual teachers who are delegated to handle or manage the safety of learners.

2.3.3 Sexual Abuse

Group 1

Schools in this category, Ntswaki high and Dube primary schools reported cases of
sexual abuse. Ntswaki high school reported that a learner was molested in the bushes near
the school. Schools in this category reported to have counselling programmes for victims
of abuse. Some schools reported to have police visiting their schools to teach learners on
how to protect themselves and also to make them aware of the dangers outside.

Group 2

The following schools; Ntule primary, Sebone high, Matu primary and Lesedi primary,
reported that they had a number of sexual abuse cases in the past two years. Sebone high
school had four rape cases reported to the Police. Two of these cases were rapes that
happened in the toilets because their toilets did not have doors and those that had doors
did not lock. Perpetrators were outsiders who were not apprehended. The third case was a
rape by a fellow student but from the neighbouring school. It was reported that the victim
did not receive counselling because there is no one capable of doing that. The case never
went to court because the principal and the school governing body as well as the parents
of both students met together to solve the problem. The learners performance was
reported to have deteriorated and the learner became reserved.

In the fourth case of abuse an educator was the perpetrator. The victim reported the
incident to the principal but the school management dealt with the case the same way as
the third one. The teacher is still in that school but the learner moved to another school
for fear of victimisation and hoping to forget the ordeal. In Ntule primary school, a
learner was raped during school trip and was afraid to report the rape because of threats
from perpetrators who happened to be fellow learners. A friend therefore reported the
incident a month later. Perpetrators were arrested but were released because the victim
refused to testify and she was still traumatised. The rest of the schools had a few cases
reported and perpetrators were not found.


In this chapter the research design and methods of the research procedure were outlined.
The procedural statements and design of the project were discussed, as well as the
summary of the interviews conducted from selected ten schools.





In chapter two the procedural statements and design of the project were discussed, which
included the interview, target population and administrative arrangements. This chapter
will focus on the importance of the law of education, the case law requirements regarding
the safety of learners as well as the South Africas obligations in international and
national law.

Case law, common law and legislation provide the requirements with which schools
should comply (Bondesio et al 1995:54). This chapter mainly explores the general legal
principles, which apply to safety in schools in general. Special challenges of the safety of
learners in Soshanguve in Gauteng Province will be discussed in chapter four.


According to Beckmann et al (1995:8) the law of education is a specialised part of the

South African legal system, which applies to education management and all its facets. It
consists of the constitution, other statute law, common law and case law that create an
education system and regulate all the interactions of individuals, groups, independent
bodies and officials within the system. In other words, the law of education is a collection
of legal rules, principles and norms, which come from statute law, common law and case
law, that have in common elements that can be applied in education relationships and

A school as learning and teaching institution involves different parties that have an
interest in education. These parties include educators, parents, teacher organisations,

school governing bodies. NGOs, churches and the community at large. Education
requires all these parties to work in partnership and collaboration. It is in this respect that
the law of education is regarded as an important pivotal joint functioning within the
education system (Netshitahame 199: 11).

Beckmann et al (1995: 8-14) highlight the importance of the law of education as follows:

The law of education regulates education

It governs the actions, functions and behaviour of all people and bodies that are
involved in education. It also establishes the authority of educators and in particular
that of the educational manager.

Understanding processes and principles

It is important for educators and administrators to know what legal consideration will
be taken into account to reach decisions on various matters such as when a learner is
injured, even the principal or teacher is accused of being the cause of harm to a
learner through his negligence and when the teacher is accused of incompetence or

Determining legality of decisions

Educators are often confronted with challenges where they have to use their personal
judgement in arriving at a decision in the daily execution of their duties. Educators
and education managers are often uncertain about the legality of decisions that they
have to take in their daily functioning. The knowledge of the law of education makes
them aware of when they can safely make a decision or when to call on legal experts
for advice. The law of education helps the educator to judge in advance whether the
decision he or she is to make will affect the rights of other parties or not, e.g. the
suspension and expulsion of learners.

The law of education creates a safe environment

Knowledge of education law can help educators; school governing bodies and
principals make safe decisions, that is, decisions that will not result in lawsuits. It also
ensures the creating of environment in which the physical and psychological safety of
the people is ensured. It allows learning and teaching to proceed smooth in a secure
and safe education environment. The law of education functionally contributes to the
creation of harmonising patterns of cooperation among all parties.

Legal requirements

A person who is active in a certain field is expected to be abreast of legal provisions,

requirements and principles that regulate his activities in that field. Ignorance of the
relevant legal principles cannot serves as an excuse or a wrongful act, e.g. the
principal should know the legal basis for administrative activities such as drawing up
the school policies, the learners code of conduct, learner control and management
and delegation of authority to his subordinates.

Decision-making framework

The law of education provides the framework within which decision-making and all
management functions and governance of the school should be executed. Legal
considerations limit decision-making powers in the sense that they determine which
decisions are possible or not.


It is stipulated in the Bill of Rights (Act No. 108 of 1996, section 24) that every person
has the right to an environment that is not detrimental to his or her health or well-being.
This right also applies to learners and protects the learners from being exposed to a
harmful environment, including a school. The teachers, in addition to his duty to teach, is
also required to provide educational security in respect of the teaching of correct social

skills to the learners to which such duty is owed. It is required by law that the school
must ensure both the physical and psychological safety of learners (Oosthuizen et al.,



The teacher as a caring supervisor is expected to work in partnership with learners and
parents. He should exemplify the character of concern and willingness not only to
supervise learners under his control, but also to care for their mental and physical well-
being. A caring teacher is one who strives at all times to foster attitudes of safety among
his learners. He is the one who has a moral duty to inform his learners about the dangers
of modern, everyday life without building hysteria ( Netshitahame 1999:20).

According to Netshitahame (1999:20) the educators and administrators cannot achieve

excellence in education without orderly schools. To focus on safety alone is to miss the
point. She pointed out that one of the indicators of an effective school is the presence of
a safe school climate. The classroom climate determines to a large extent how learners
will act. Most disruptive learners do not misbehave in all their classes. This leads to the
conclusion that specific teacher practices, supervision, caring and subject policies
influence the behaviour of learners. The teachers duty to protect learners includes
protection on school grounds, on school journeys, during and after school hours. This
duty is comparable with those of parents but because a teacher is professionally qualified
to execute his task well, he is expected by the law to perform his job more proficiently
than the parents would.


This chapter dealt mainly with the law of education and the safety of learners. Its
explanation and importance as well as its functions were given. The portrayal of the
teacher as a caring supervisor and the liability of teachers were explained.

The next chapter will focus on the assessment of the current situation in Soshanguve
schools and the management of the safety of learners and strategies to be applied by
principals to create and maintain a safe and secure school environment.





In chapter three emphases was placed on an explanation of the law of education and the
safety of learners in general. The importance and functions of the law of education were
explained and the duties and liabilities of teachers, including common law, legislative and
case law requirements for the safety of learners were discussed.

This chapter will deal with the nature and the extent of sexual abuse in schools and the
management of the safety of learners in schools. Other unsafe situations will be shortly
discussed. Strategies, which the principal may apply to create and maintain a safe and
secure school environment, will be explained. The involvement of principals, teachers,
and community in creating and maintaining a safe schools environment, as well as the
management of learners safety in schools. The principles for developing safe schools
will be outlined.


According to Human Rights Watch report (2001) the sexual violence South African girls
encounter in their schools takes place against the backdrop of a violent South African
society. The apartheid regime has left a legacy of social and economic inequality. The
South African education system, although engaged in meaningful reform measures, faces
severe problems in overcoming the legacy of the past in the face of limited fiscal
resources in the present day. An education system so weakened is susceptible to any
number of social ills- among them gender violence. The heavy burden this violent legacy

places on schools makes it all the more critical that school authorities intervene to stop
violence in schools and create safe learning environment for learners.



According to Saunders (1994:7) safety in schools firstly involves an atmosphere of

safety, i.e. a climate in which learners feel comfortable and happy. The classroom
environment should be a pleasant and peaceful setting, contributing to effective teaching,
thinking and learning. Schools may have same safety problems as the surrounding
community. In the following paragraph the researcher will discuss the safety threats that
affect South African schools in particular, the sexual violence in general and those that
are particular to Soshanguve schools. The problems of safety in schools are challenging
to education management and in both primary and high schools.

4.3.1 Sexual abuse

According to Glaser and Frosh (1993:5) any child below the age of consent may be
deemed to have been sexually abused when a sexually matures person has, by design or
neglect of their societal or specific responsibilities in relation to the child, engaged or
permitted the engagement of that child in any activity of a sexual nature which is
intended to lead to the sexual gratification of the sexual mature person. The definition
pertains whether or not the activity involves explicit coercion by any means, whether or
not, it involves genital or physical contact, whether or not initiated by the child, and
whether or not there is discernible harmful outcome in the short term.

Media reports reflect that a woman is raped every 3 to 5 minutes in South African
communities. According to Human Rights watch report (2001) South African girls face
the threat of multiple forms of violence at schools. This includes rape, sexual abuse, and
sexualised touching or emotional abuse in the form of threats of violence. This abuse
takes place in dormitories, in empty classrooms, in hallways and in school toilets.

These forms of gender violence are largely committed by other students, and in some
instances by teachers or other school employees. Even strangers to the schools
environment target young women in schools, or on their way to and from school.

The Human Rights Watch (2001) further reported that on a daily basis in schools across
the nation, South African girls of every race and economic class encounter sexual
violence and harassment at school that impedes the realisation of the rights to education.
Rape and sexual abuse of children are increasing rapidly and are matters of great concern.
It is reported that from 1996 to 1998, girls aged seventeen constituted approximately 40
percent of reported rape and attempted rape victims nationally. Because those who
commit acts of sexual violence can also be very young, girls may have real reason to fear
the threats and taunts of their classmates. Rape and sexual coercion by teachers and school employees

The problem of teachers engaging in sexual misconduct with underage female students is
widespread. Sometimes reinforcing sexual demands with threads of physical violence or
corporal punishment, teachers have sexually propositioned girls and verbally degraded
them using highly sexualised language. Teachers would abuse their authority by offering
better grades or money to pressure girls for sexual favours or dating relationships. Rape and sexual violence by students

One of the greatest threats to a South African girls safety at school is likely to be seated
next to her in class. South African girls are far more likely to be sexually assaulted by one
or more of their classmates than by a teacher. It was reported in the Sunday Times,
October 27, 2002 of an alleged rape of a nine-year-old girl by a 13-year-old classmate, in
full view of other children. The incident took place in a classroom when children were
left without supervision when their class teacher was on study leave for a week. It was
reported that a number of other girls were raped during that week. Girls are also been
attacked in schools toilets facilities, in empty classrooms and hallways, in hostel rooms
and dormitories and in other no go areas and on schools grounds.

23 Violence in transit to and from school

Girls who have to travel long distance to school on public transport are often subjected to
threats of sexual violence and sexual harassment in transit. Poor and black girls are more
likely to have to travel long distances by public transport to reach school and are most
adversely affected by an increased risk of violence. Consequences of gender violence for girls education and health

According to Wolpe (2001:129) gendered or sex based violence in the broader context of
discrimination, constraints the freedom of movement, choices, and activities of its
victims. It frequently results in intimidation, poor levels of participation in learning
activities, forced isolation, low self-esteem or self confidence, dropping out of education
or from particular activities or subjects; or other physical, sexual and /or psychological
damage. It erodes the basis of equal opportunity realised through equal access to

There is also much evidence that the long-term effects of child abuse can be harmful. In
the long term, case studies and questionnaires surveys indicate that adults who have been
sexually abused as children have impaired self-esteem, including sexual-esteem, they are
more likely to become drug or alcohol addicts, they are more prone to negative mood and
cognitive state, to interpersonal problems (Glaser and Frosh 1993: 20).

In many instances, girls who have been victims of sexual violence at school leave school
for sometime, change schools, or even quit attending school entirely, fearing continued
abuse from those who have raped, sexually assaulted, or harassed them. Usually teachers
and students who are accused of sexual violence remain at school while it is girls who
leave (Human Rights watch 2001). The associated health risks posed by sexual violence
generally, including unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases such as
HIV/AIDS, also have implications for girls educational access. Each year, many

children and women in South Africa are infected with HIV when they are raped (Jewkes

4.3.2 Drugs

The abundance of illegal drugs sold on the streets and ready accessibility of alcohol to
students pose threat to safety. Teachers and learners come to school drunk or bring
alcohol with them to school. Research studies indicate that drug use is widespread among
youth and young adults. The studies have shown that drugs are now used by a majority of
high school seniors, with between six and seven out of every ten reporting drug use at
some time of their lives. The most commonly used drugs among youths and young adults
are not illegal, i.e. alcohol and cigarettes. Most recent studies have shown that alcohol is
the drug most frequently tried, and the one most heavily used by young people. Since
alcohol is easily obtained and the penalties for its consumption are mild relative to those
for other drugs, alcohol is considered a safer and the most popular drug among teenagers
(Scarpitti and Dateman 1980: 21).

Prinsloo and Beckmann (1988:177) are of the opinion that it is the duty of teachers to
teach and educate learners about the proper use of lawful drugs (alcohol and cigarettes).
These lawful drugs often lead to learners experimenting with unlawful drugs and the use
thereof later leads to dependency. It is unfortunate that teachers who smoke and drink
tend to avoid presenting anti-tobacco or anti-alcohol education within health education
programmes. This also has an adverse influence on maintaining school discipline
(Netshitahame 1999:34).

Despite the variety of efforts now taking place to cope with the tremendous drug problem
in schools, there are still much to be done. According to Glaser (1978:6) the following
problems are in need for attention.

Lack of understanding of the nature of the total school drug problem in which
education is but one important phase.

Numerous educational programs with goals that primarily emphasise the
acquisition of pharmacological or physiological information without
consideration of the psychological, sociological and spiritual aspects associated
with drug use.

Unclear understanding of the independent roles of the school and community as

well as the importance of cooperation and coordination of these programs at
national, local levels with police and other community agencies or organisations.

Lack of communication procedure for alerting the community regarding the drug
problem and for gaining support for school drug problem.

Fragmented, piecemeal, uncoordinated and frequently ineffective programs in

schools and school system.

Lack of understanding and development of more effective communication with

students, especially with drug users

Lack of procedures to assess the effectiveness of programs quantitatively and


Presently confusion exists regarding the proper role of the school in handling the
increasing drug problem. Very little of the massive amount of literature addressed to this
matter deals either with this problem or with the alternatives open to schools in
preventing or dealing with drug abuse. Although schools and teachers cannot solve all
humanitys ills, they have a special role to play in drug misuse and abuse. They can be
instrumental in helping to reduce the drug problem through preventative action.

4.3.3 Fights and bullying

Fighting among boys on school grounds is apparently not such a rare occurrence. Normal
violence among schoolboys requires tolerance to a certain extent since it is a general,

unavoidable tradition. However, fighting among learners in the area under investigation
exceeds what is normally acceptable. Learners engage in continued fighting with pangas
and all sorts of homemade weapons. Learners carry guns to schools. Bullying is also one
of the causes of school dropouts and does in fact endanger the psychological safety of
learners (Prinsloo and Beckmann 1988: 146).

4.3.4 Violence

Learners have become witnesses of emotional, verbal and physical violence. When
learners witness all forms of violence, they suffer from anger, fear, hopelessness,
confusion or irritational thinking. Learners sometimes witness traumatic situations that
are difficult to heal, referring to an episode where a boy entered the school premises in
Soshanguve and short dead a male teacher in a classroom for having an affair with his
girlfriend (learner). This is unacceptable and it puts everyone in danger. According to
Wilson and Petersilia (1995: 141) school violence is often blamed on a violence prone



According to Netshitahame (1999:41) the principal has a legal duty to see to it that
education and learning proceed smoothly in the school and that the institution itself is
maintained. The principal alone cannot bring about safety in the school. The school and
the community should work together with the support from education departments, the
police service, social workers, school health service, learners, parents, school governing
bodies and all parties that have an interest in education.

The school principal should form partnerships with schools clients especially parents as
the problems of safety in schools are the by-products of what is happening in the society
at large. As has been stated previously, the school should form a partnership with its
clients in order to promote the safety of learner. Partnership agreements create mutual

relationships with an internal positive effect. Netshitahame (1999: 42) outline the basic
components of a school support network as follows (see figure 4.1):

Figure 4.1 Basic components of a school support network (Adapted from Heytek,


Church Parents

Health& welfare Older citizens
service Individual
NGOs With interest in
Business school
Social services Parents
School health associations
education 1.1 SUPPORT NETWORK PRINCIPAL 1.2 PEOPLE Community
School INVOLVED headmen
guidance Different clubs
& counselling INITIATOR Families
Early childhood Extracurricular FACILITATOR . Teachers Community
specialists (4) Cultural activities AND A PIVOTING . HODs policing forum,
DEPARTMENT OF Facility maintenance . Subject etc
School safety . Students
Programmes . SGBs SUPPORT
Superintendent Communications . Student ORGANISATIONS
Subject heads
advisers School policy . Class heads
Directors System of school rules . Police
District Mental
Managers health
Area Managers counselling
Circuit Financing
Managers institutions
Education Donors
policy unit; Funders

According to Bey and Turner (1996:83) a tight-knit social network of approving and
disapproving people are more effective determinants of a learners behaviour than laws,
policemen and security. Attitudes, values and behaviour of adults authority figures
become a part of a childs character. In communities where parents are actively involved
in their childrens education, learners achieve better than learners whose parents do not
become involved. When children attend school abused, hungry, neglected or unhappy,
their progress in school is likely to deteriorate. One of the functions of partnerships
should be the identification of childrens emotional, physical and social problems and to
help address them. Each school should have a broad programme divided into sub-
programmes to deal with specific problems.

4.4.1 School Safety awareness programmes

According to Prinsloo and Beckmann (1998:135) education departments require that each
school have a clear learners; safety programme and policy. An efficient safety
programme should include the following:

A clear safety policy at every school;

The implementation of this policy in all areas where dangerous situation exist;
Guidance for teachers and learners with regard to safety principles and the
observance of such principles in various school activities;
Recognition of unsafe conditions in a school and the immediate application of
precautionary measures; and
A careful record of all school accidents for the purpose of preventing a recurrence
of such accidents

The key to the success of each programme involves getting support from staff and
learners. The type of safety programme that a school may need will be determined by the
safety problems that the school encounters.. The following are examples of safety

A programme to deal with violence in school (bullying, fighting, gangs, weapons
and abuse)
Dealing with gangs
Dealing with school bullying
Reporting school crime

4.4.2 School safety policy

According to Kruger and van Schalkwyk (1993:30) a policy is a programme, principles

and guidelines according to which objectives must be attained. The school policy is
drawn up within the juridical framework of the Constitution and within the limits of
national education policy. The policy of each school is unique in that it takes into account
the particular circumstances of a school, such as school locality, the communitys basic
motives and natural ad cultural factors. The policy is subject to regular revision and the
principal should welcome suggestions and comments from the staff, which may be
incorporated in the revised statement. The safety policy of a school should not be in
contradiction with the general school policy. Most of what might be included in the
safety policy will be determined by the particular circumstance surrounding the school.
Since the safety of learners is an issue which involves everyone in the school, van Wyk
(1983:92) suggests that every teacher should be involved in a school safety programme.


This chapter dealt with the management of the safety of learners in schools. Particula5r
threats, which are present in South African schools, including Soshanguve, were
discussed. The strategies which principals can use to create safe schools were discussed,
these included safety awareness programmes, school safety policies. The next chapter
will look at the action plan by the Department of Education in developing school safety
in South Africa.




Chapter four focused on the nature and the extent of sexual abuse in schools and the
management of the safety of learners in schools. This chapter will focus on the plan by
the Department of Education in developing school safety in South Africa and current
strategies to assist schools in dealing with sexual abuse. An interview was conducted on
15 June 2002, with Ms N Vilakazi, an official of the National Department of Education
on the involvement of the department in insuring safety and creating a school
environment that is conducive for learning and teaching. Ms Vilakazi outlined the
objectives in developing principles for creating safe schools as follows:


To protect the physical safety of educators, learners and the school staff
To provide safe and healthy environments for learning and whole school
To reduce the potential for violence and crime to occur, to manage situations and
to deal with the trauma
To provide opportunities for learners and teachers to engage in non-violent


According to Roper (2001) effective school safety initiatives and interventions, which
show a positive impact on reducing violence and creating healthy learning environments,
highlights the following principles for developing effective and efficient safe schools.

5.2.1 Principle 1: Developing and understanding what a safe school is

A safe school is understood to be a holistic program developed within the school by the
school management, learners and school community that provides for the safety and
security of learners and educators in order to build a learning environment free from
violence, intimidation, fear and shaming. A healthy learning environment can promote
the emotional and cognitive development of learners. A safer school strategy would
therefore need to include both environmental change strategies (such as building school
capacity, setting norms and procedures, managing classes and regrouping learners), as
well as individual change strategies (such as social competency skills training,
intervention in inappropriate behaviour, peer programmes, counselling and providing
recreations and enrichment activities.

5.2.2 Principle 2: Knowing what to look for as (early) indicators of violence,

delinquent behaviour and troubled children.

This involves both a process of data collection and an assessment of school safety, as
well as understanding and being aware of behavioural changes in children that indicates
problems such as drug abuse, gang involvement, alcohol abuse and domestic violence. In
addition, it is important for teachers and parents to know about learning difficulties in
order that learners with such problems can get the appropriate intervention and remedy.

5.2.3 Principle 3: Developing prevention and response plans and policies to issues of
safety and violence. Although each schools safety plan will be different
because it reflects the school as a community view, the plans and policies would
include addressing issues such as:

Firearms, drugs and alcohol use on school property

School discipline code and strategies for dealing with misconduct for learners and

Strategies to deal with truancy and the influence of gangs in schools and gang
Relationships and partnerships with local police and service providers.

5.2.4 Principle 4: Building a safety net for troubled children, learners, and knowing
where to get help.

The development of safety nets involves the school-community and the creation of
schools as community centres. Efforts need to be made to involve, among others,
parents, learners, law enforcement agencies, service providers such as health, welfare and
sporting bodies. Schools can focus on particular elements that engage learners and
provide a mechanism to support them. These could include developing student
leadership, crime prevention programmes, extramural activities and self-defining
activities, cultural awareness and tolerance, curriculum development, academic support
and dealing with learning problems. The purpose of this approach is that it allows for
creative opportunities for learners to find personal meaning in a complicated world.

5.2.5 Principle 5: Knowing how to handle and respond to crises

Safe schools are prepared for a potential crisis and violent acts, however in the event of
such an incident, the handling of such a crisis situation is critical, and training in conflict
management, mediation, dealing with particular situations is therefore required.

5.2.6 Principle 6: Treating the aftermath of violence and trauma

Talking about and dealing with violence and trauma is an essential element of the process
of developing safer schools. This involves councillors and guidance teachers in
discussions, activities and victim empowerment to deal with the trauma, but it also needs
to involve teachers and staff. The school needs to develop the skills and means of dealing
with stress and conflict in order that the messages are constant, and the learning
environment remains stable, supportive and non-threatening.

The advantages of implementing interventions based on the above principles is that there
is greater involvement, support and opportunity by the schoolcommunity for sound
solutions to be created for direct social issues which are too big and daunting to address
as a school manager alone. Further advantages of such an approach are:

A shared responsibility to develop policies and plans with clear boundaries and
role agreed upon.
Developing preventative and problem-solving strategies, not just reactive
Shared decision making with early support and endorsement, and ongoing
information sharing and communication between parties.
Shared responsibility in the enactment of such policies and plans.
Shared monitoring and review of progress.

It is clear that in order to achieve the above elements, teachers and school managers need
to be able to undertake and implement such processes.


Researchers indicated that the most important contributory factors towards low levels of
violence and safe schools are well-managed schools. Schools which have clear norms and
expectations, fair procedures, and schools which involve all members of the community
(teachers, parents, learners, principals, administrators, community services) are less likely
to have a high level of violence (Department of Education 2001). According to the
Department of Education (2001) the solutions to address violence within schools and to
develop safe schools are not quick and easy, because they involve the following
elements, which are complex in practice:

The development of policies and procedures with sound action steps for
implementing and dealing with non-adherence.

The partnership between school-law enforcement and state law-enforcement,
which involves the community, parents, and youth.
Strategies to involve, mobilise and capacitate youth in preventative programs,
project and campaigns
Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of school management and school
service within constraints (financial, human resources, curricula, government
procedures and principles, training)

The Department of Education both at national levels and in the provinces confirm that
sexual abuse has been as much a constant feature of South African schools as it has been
of society in general, and that many of our schools have become, violent and unsafe
environments, particularly for the girl child. It is also unfortunately a matter on which
there has been a resounding silence from society.

According to Vilakazi (2002) many of our schools like schools in other countries
experience to varying degrees, violent and criminal behaviour that includes bullying,
substance abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, racism, gangsterism, guns and weapons,
vandalism and other antisocial behaviour. All of these make these schools an unsafe place
to be for some of our children suffocating many of their dreams and reducing the school
experience for these children to a battle for survival rather than academic achievement.
The Department of Education is concerned particularly about the long-term effects on
children who are victims of abuse. Their self-esteem plummets, their school performance
is affected, some dropout of schools and many, their social and personal development is
also affected. These children very often fail to fulfil their ambitions and the
overwhelming majority of these are girls.


According to Vilakazi (2002) the Department of Education (DOE) has instituted a range
of strategies to assist schools such as the following:

5.5.1 Safe Schools Project

In 1999 a major national drive was launched to create safe and disciplined learning
environments that celebrate innocence and value human dignity. It is the absence of a
safe and disciplined environment that makes abuse possible, whether by learners and
teachers or by members of the public who gain easy access into schools. The safe schools
project, which was launched as part of the Tirisano Implementation Plan, has focussed
Improving physical safety in schools and regulating access,
Mobilising for community involvement and ownership of schools;
Developing broad policies on school safety including one on the management of
drug usage in schools (which together with alcohol abuse, have been shown to be
major contributory factors to sexual violence);
Creating non threatening forums for children to speak out, and
Establishing partnerships between the Department of Education and other
government departments as well as civil society organisation, in pursuit of safe

5.5.2 Life skills for Sexual Abuse Prevention

The focus of the life orientation/Life skills learning area within Curriculum 2005 is to
develop in learners the skills, knowledge, values and attitudes that are essential for
effective and responsible participation in a democratic society. Learners will learn and
analyse different kinds of relationships that exist between sexes and also evaluate these
relationships. Learners are also enabled to reflect on their behaviours, on those of others
and to critically evaluate human rights, values and practices hoping that this, together
with sexuality education will play a crucial role in changing learners mindset. A major
gap in this area is still the production of learning materials for the different grades to can
truly empower learners.

5.5.3 Immediate dismissal of teachers for sexual abuse of learners

In November 2000 the Department of Education introduced an amendment to the

Employment of Educators Act of 1998 to deal with abuse of learners by teachers. The
amendment makes it clear that if a teacher is found guilty of having a sexual relationship
with a learner at his/her school, whether with or without the consent of such a learner, the
teacher will be dismissed. Where a teacher is involved in the rape or sexual assault of a
learner of another school and is found guilty after a hearing, such a teacher may be
dismissed from his /her post. The intention of the legislation is to make it absolutely clear
that a teacher who sexually abuses learners should not be a teacher.

The South African Council of Educators Act was enacted in 2000 to ensure that a teacher
who abuses a learner is de-registered as a teacher and may not be appointed by any
person, including private providers.

5.5.4 Managing sexual abuse in schools

In 2000 the Department of Education developed a module for schools on Managing

Sexual Harassment and Gender-base Violence. This module has already been piloted in
three provinces: Gauteng, Free State and Mpumalanga and will be taken to all other
provinces. It is divided into eight separate workshops and provides schools with
knowledge and skills needed to deal with the different facets of sexual harassment and

In 2001, the Department of Education together with SAPS, completed a workbook on

Signposts to Safe Schools. This workbook will serve as a resource as well as a reference
for action to be taken by educators, district manager, principals, and school governing
bodies on a whole-range of school safety related matters, including sexual abuse. The
workbook was distributed to all schools by the end of May 2002.

5.5.5 Addressing gender in education: A handbook for teachers

The Department of Education have developed a teachers manual on gender equity in

education to assist teachers create schools that are friendly to girls too. It goes without
saying that no real learning in schools can take place in an environment of fear. Neither
can the values of constitution be nurtured in young South Africans in an environment
where they are being flouted daily. It is therefore essential that the Department of
Education promote gender equity and respect for other in our schools and ensure that
these values inform and infuse all work and activities in schools.


Vilakazi (2002) admitted that despite the numerous initiatives in place, there is still a
problem in this area. Their work focuses primarily on two distinct groups, educators and
learners. The Department therefore should intensify their interventions with respect to
both these groups.

5.6.1 Restoring confidence in the profession

The first challenge they are faced with is managing the damage to the teaching profession
and the education system as a whole, caused by some of the recent reports on sexual
abuse in schools. It is important for the Department of Education to restore public
confidence in the ability of the education system, to protect children from abuse. It is
reported that in 1998, the Medical Research Council study on the rape of girls in South
Africa, recently published claims that teachers commit a shocking 33% of incidents of
rape against children. Teachers are in a position of trust in relation to learners and there is
major disappointment when they are seen as having betrayed that trust.

5.6.2 Improving responsiveness of system to reported cases

Investigations by the department of Education and other outside formal education system
indicate that the responsive of schools and the system as a whole to reported cases needs
to improve significantly. Monitoring by the education Labour Relations Councils (ELRC)
of cases reported between 2002 shows that 145 cases of abuse of learners by teachers
were reported. 65 of these led to dismissal and 66 are still outstanding. This means that of
the cases already resolved, 82% led to dismissal.

5.6.3 Encourage reporting

Another area to focus on will be to work to increase reporting by both the public and
victims. Various ways of doing that are being explored and are currently working to set
up a national toll free line to support the reporting process

5.6.4 Support for victims

A secondary challenge linked to reporting is support for victims both within the
education system and beyond. Within the education system, the Department must work
with schools to ensure that they provide face-to-face support and counselling for victims.
Reports on child victims of abuse have highlighted on the inability of some of the
systems and structures to deal with child victims of abuse, thus subjecting them to second
level trauma. Victims experience trauma at the hands of doctors who have to examine
them, police who take their statements as well as courts that expect children to interact
with their processes like adults. All of these present their set of challenges.

5.6.5 Empowering girls to defend themselves

The Department of education should come up with a program to empower girls so they
can extricate themselves from difficult situations, to complement work on arming them
with the necessary knowledge and values. Awareness should be created to girls that they
are not defenceless and they therefore do no have to be victims.

5.6.6 Sexual harassment policy

The Department should work to ensure a common understanding of what constitutes

sexual harassment through the development of a national sexual harassment policy. It is
important to be able to distinguish between flirting and harassment. Sexual harassment is
by implication, behaviour that is hostile or offensive to the recipient or other, and creates
an undermining of the integrity or dignity of an individual.


The Department of Education in its response to sexual abuse in schools has avoided
coming up with new recommendations and solutions that may not be transformed into
concrete actions. The focus of the department therefore will be to intensify and ensure
implementation of existing initiatives and introduce new initiatives only where there are
major gaps.



6.1 School physical facilities

Most of the schools that are defined in-group 2 do not have enough classrooms, resulting
in overcrowding. Some classes are not locked after school. They are therefore becoming
hideouts for criminals and rapists. Some of these schools are vandalised. Playgrounds are
not safe for most of the schools. Schools that do not have playgrounds use the community
grounds, which are not safe for learners. Most of the schools have toilets that do not lock
and unhygienic. They are even far from the school and classrooms. These toilets are a
threat to the safety of learners because learners are even raped in those toilets. Some of
the schools are near the bushes and learners are always in danger when going home

6.2 School safety programme

Most of the schools do not have some form of a programme to deal with school safety.
Schools did not have a clear understanding of the mission statement and how it is done.
Two schools had a written mission statement and the school safety policy but they were
not detailed. The rest of the schools did not have written policies. Parents are not
involved in planning and therefore lack the ability to raise issues of safety awareness in
schools. Classroom safety rules are lacking in most of the schools. Few schools have
classroom rules to keep order classrooms. It was seen that schools also needed classroom
safety rules to be reminded of good behaviour and respect for each other and respect for

6.3 Sexual violence

The ignorance and reluctance of educators to report sexual abuse cases allows sexual
abuse to continue. It also increases learners vulnerability to sexual violence. Most of the
schools in group 2 reported some form of sexual violence experienced by female learners.
The unfortunate part was that the school management failed to report the cases to the
police to protect their schools. Rape victims on the other hand did not receive any form of
counselling and the perpetrators are still out there continuing to abuse other girls. It has
been found that the school playground and toilets were also not safe for learners. Girls
were raped in the toilets. The bushes around some of the schools posed a threat to the
safety of learners.

Young girls are also raped on their way to school and during school trips. Some of these
incidences remain unreported to protect the name of the schools and educators if they are
the perpetrators. Victims remain scared and afraid all the time that the same thing could
happen again. Most of the girls resort to moving to other schools or leave school with the
hope that they will forget it ever happened. The incapability of school management to
deal with cases of sexual violence causes most girls their confidence and their right to
education. Schools prefer to deal with sexual abuse problems internally. As a result they
were not helpful in the efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice or to assist the victims of
sexual violence.

Children are often not believed and supported when they come forward with allegations
of abuse. This often gives teachers who are perpetrators the freedom to move to new
schools and prey on other victims after being accused of rape or assault at previous
schools. Boys are rarely disciplined. Girls who are abused often fail their grades and they
loose interest in other outside activities and some stop coming to school. Girls who report
abuse are often further victimised by teachers and students. Many suffer the effects of
sexual violence in silence, having learned submission as a survival skill and their
attackers continue to act with impunity in part because no one takes responsibility for the



It is of primary importance that the National Department of Education provides

leadership and mobilise commitment for combating sexual violence in schools at every
level in the education system.

7.1 Recommendations to school management in creating a safe school


School were currently not well suited to manage child sexual abuse owing to
educators; their limited capacity to understand the intricacies of child abuse; failure
by educators to comply with the statutory duty to report child sexual abuse; lack of
confidentiality among educators; the high rate of child sexual abuse by educators and
that educators were already overburdened in their role as educators.

The following measures are therefore recommended to improve the management of

sexual violence against children in schools:
Clear definition of the role of educators and procedures to be followed when
dealing with sexually abused children at school,
Educators to be trained on child sexual abuse;
The introduction of life skills education for learners, and
Teaching school children conflict resolution skills, attempting to reduce bullying,
sending violent learners to alternative schools, improving classroom management.
There should be ongoing education of learners around issues of child sexual

Learners to be informed of the procedures of reporting sexual abuse at schools.

Teachers to be trained to identify possible victims of child sexual abuse.
Dealing with student sources of everyday school violence requires coping with the
submerged part of the violence iceberg: disorder. Two issues that must be addressed

to cope with student sources of disorder a concentration in some schools of
unwilling learners with no stake in conformity, and flabby adult control over student
misbehaviour require new public policies rather than massive infusions of scarce
resources for security guards.

7.2 Recommendations to national Department of Education, national and

provincial government.

The national Department of Education should adopt a National plan of action on

Sexual Violence and Harassment in Schools which should be developed in wide
consultation with all stakeholders, including representatives of pupils, teachers,
principals, parents, social workers, government officials responsible for gender

The national Department of Education should work with provincial departments to

develop guidelines on a uniform basis. Ensure that sexual abuse is addressed within
them, and disseminate them widely among school principals and other relevant

The Department of Social Services, SAPS, CJS should hold a workshop/seminar to

investigate the viability of keeping a national register on child sexual abuse. They
should also ensure the establishment of a temporary place of safety in every area.

The Department of Education should strengthen Adult Control over student

misbehaviour by encouraging community adults to come into high schools, not as
teachers, as security guards, but as full time students. Recruiting adult students can
strengthen teachers control in an individual high school. Teachers who have an adult
student or two in their classes are not alone with a horde of teenagers. They have
adult allies during the inevitable confrontations with misbehaving students.

Teachers facing allegations of sexual misconduct should at a minimum be separated

from the complaining pupils. Teachers facing allegations of rape or sexual assault

should be suspended with pay, the allegations reported to the police and the
suspension continued pending police investigation and trial.

The code of ethics for teachers should be reviewed to oblige teachers to report sexual
abuse by their peers and those teachers who report the misconduct should be


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2.3.1 SCHOOL PHYSICAL FACILITIES Conditions of the classrooms

1. Do you have enough classrooms to accommodate all learners?

2 What is the condition of the floors; and windows?
3 Do all classrooms have locks?
4 Are doors kept locked after schools?
5 What dangers do classrooms pose regarding the safety of learners? Toilets

1. What type of toilets do your school have?

2. How safe are they?
3 Are the toilets far from classrooms?
4 What safety problems do your learners experience regarding the toilets? Location of the school

1. Describe the physical location of your schools.

2. Do your learners have to cross a busy street when coming to school?
3. What other safety problems do you experience with regard to your school

2.3.2 SCHOOL SAFETY PROGRAMMES The mission of the school

1. Do you have a school mission statement?
2. Is it in a written form?
3 What is the mission of your school with regard to the safety of learners? School safety policy

1 Do you have a safety policy for your school?

2 How do you inform parents and learners about your safety policy?
3 Who determines what is to be included in the policy?
4 Can your school policy be enforced and how? School safety rules?

1. Do you have a system of safety rule for your school?

2. Are all the learners aware of the rules?
3. Do learners know what is expected of them?
4. How and when do you announce these rules?
5. How do you enforce your rules?
6. Do you think your rules are effective enough to the extent that safety is ensured at
school? Safety Committees

1. Does your school have committees do deal with each situation?

3 Of whom are the committees composed?
4 Are the committees working effectively? If yes, to what extent are they effective?
5 Which other safety programmes do you have to safeguard learners?


1. Which threats to safety do you experience other than those posed by school
physical facilities and the setting of the school?
2. Do learners bring dangerous weapons to school?
3 How do you search for weapons without violating the learners right to privacy?
4 Do your learners engage in :
i) fist-fights
ii) bullying
iii) any disruptive behaviour
if yes. How often?
5. How are these problems handled?
6. Whom do you involve in handling these problems?
7. Which other threats to safety do you experience other than those mentioned


1. Do you have sexual abuse cases in the school?

2. How many cases have been reported?
3. Were the cases reported by learners themselves or parents?
4. What steps were taken to resolve the problem?
5 Were perpetrators learners or teachers or outsiders?
6 What actions were taken by the school if a perpetrator was:
6.1 a learner, or
6.2 a teacher
7. How many cases ended in court and what were the outcome?
8. Do you have a counselling programme for victims of abuse?