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26 August 2008

Society blamed for school violence

The spate of killings by pupils in South Africa was the result of a web of social, cultural and religious ills, a rights body said on Tuesday.

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The spate of killings by pupils in South Africa was the result of a web of social, cultural and religious ills, a rights body said on Tuesday.

"These ills undermine the concept of ubuntu/botho. This is a serious problem," said Commission for the Promotion of Rights of Religious, Cultural and linguistic Communities chief executive Phumla Madiba.

The commission condemned the killing of matric pupil Jacques Pretorius at the Nic Diederichs Technical High School by a fellow pupil last week.

Madiba said society was faced with growing signs of criminality, intolerance and disrespect for others - demonstrating a disregard for and violation of the Bill of Rights.

Kids want to make their mark
"While everyone enjoys rights, no one has a right to kill, including the state," said Madiba. The commission called for campaigns against these social ills, in an attempt to promote peace, friendship, tolerance and respect for the right to life.

The commission's deputy chairwoman, Marlene Bethlem, said schools were now faced with the loners "who want to make a mark" as well as the copycat syndrome.

Bethlem blamed school violence on the influence of bands and violence shown on television. "The role of parents is not to police their children. They need to honour and trust them, but also be involved in their lives and not keep them at an arm's length," said Bethlem.

There was a need to find a balance between trying to turn schools into prisons and ensuring the safety of teachers and children. "Safety in schools has to be taken into account and monitored so as to create a safe environment and atmosphere. We can facilitate a network between schools so as to create a climate so schools feel safe... Schools that participate could be awarded with certificates at the end of the year," said Bethlem.

Need for development structures
On the Nic Diederichs murder, she claimed the school had refused to take part in a "survey for safety" run by the Gauteng Education Department.

"They thought it would never happen to them, but it's unfortunate the incident happened after they refused to be part of the survey."

Moral Regeneration Movement chief executive officer Zandile Mdladla said South Africans should promote good values. "It's not all good in our schooling system. There is a need for developmental structures to assist in fighting social ills." – (Sapa, August 2008)

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