It's crucial to look for the warning signs

Ramotshere Secondary School at Dinokana village in Zeerust, where a male teacher was stabbed to death in class by a pupil.
Ramotshere Secondary School at Dinokana village in Zeerust, where a male teacher was stabbed to death in class by a pupil.
Image: Tiro Ramatlhatse

The problem of violence in schools has again been thrust into the spotlight after a pupil stabbed a teacher dead last week.

In the same week, another Gauteng pupil was arrested for allegedly pulling a gun on his teacher in Eldorado Park.

Another pupil was caught on video brandishing a pair of scissors at a patroller at the Noordgesig Secondary.

Sowetan spoke to educational psychologist Zaakirah Mohamed on what needs to be done to curb the behaviour of violence in schools.

Mohamed said children's behaviour is two-fold according to the social learning theory, which states that a child's behavior is learnt either through observation or imitating others.

She said this meant that what children see is what they learn, directly (what they learn at home) or indirectly (things they pick up through various forms of media).

Another factor could be what they see on TV and other media platforms, and they believe that this behaviour is normal and they believe it's appropriate due to prolonged exposure to it, she added.

Gadimang Mokolobate was killed by a pupil.
Gadimang Mokolobate was killed by a pupil.

She urged parents to look for signs that their children exhibit. "Conduct disorders don't just come out, signs and symptoms come before that . usually when there's conduct disorder it is usually [preceded by] oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)," she explained.

ODD results in children disobeying authority, being defiant, not following rules or stealing. In order to recognise these symptoms Mohamed said education was needed.

"Educate everyone from parents to communities, to your society to your school, so that we can prevent things or find help to prevent things from getting as bad as now."

Mohamed said children need guidance, support and supervision to thrive. "Letting your child have access to technology without filtering certain things is dangerous. Children will emulate things they see on YouTube, or social media where they have access to damaging sexual and violent content."

Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the problem of violence in schools was "complex" and that teachers should not have to be protected from pupils.

South African Democratic Teachers Union spokesperson Nomusa Cembi said the union had long been calling for stringent security measures in schools to curb violence.

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