Bullied boy fears for his safety

A Rylands High pupils bicycle tyres have been slashed in a bullying incident.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) is investigating claims of bullying and theft at Rylands High School.

The mother of the Grade 9 boy, who asked not to be named, says her son, aged 14, fears for his safety after being bullied by older boys at the school since the second term this year.

She said the bullying included verbal threats, intimidation and theft of her son’s jewellery.

She said her nephew, who also attends the school, told her about the bullying after her son’s bicycle tyres were slashed at the school two weeks ago.

Her son had been too afraid to say anything about the incident.

“The principal told me that he fears for my son’s safety after the boys threatened to stab him, and he said that they usually carry out their threats. I fear what will happen to my son,” she said.

She fears her son will fail the year if the bullying doesn’t stop. He is scared but has to attend school as exams are currently under way.

The school referred the Athlone News to the WCED for comment.

WCED spokesman Millicent Merton, said the department viewed bullying in a very serious light.

Asked what was being done at schools to create awareness about the dangers of bullying, she said: “Schools cover bullying in their codes of conduct.

“Our district offices work with schools and various partners to implement anti-bullying programmes. School psychologists, social workers and Safe Schools facilitators work with schools to provide counselling support and advice to victims and perpetrators of bullying.”

Asked if principals were advised to contact the WCED about bullying at their schools, she said: “Schools deal with bullying in terms of their codes of conduct. The type of incident will determine the outcome or sanction required. In this case, the school reported the incident to Safe Schools.”

She also said that the principal had attended to the incident immediately and a resolution with the parent and pupil had been reached within an hour of it being reported.

“According to the principal, all parties left his office fully satisfied that the school will investigate this matter further,” said Ms Merton.

Community Action towards a Safer Environment’s (CASE) social worker Lee-che Edwins, said that bullying could start for a number of reasons, including exposure to violence, lack of attention, an absent father, and when a child is not cared for properly.

“Bullying never just occurs for no reason. There are many reasons why a child would start bullying. Sometimes it can also be the type of language they are exposed to,” she said.

She said long-term effects of bullying included anxiety, depression and suicide, and victims sometimes dropped out of school and joined gangs.

“There are also long-term effects for the bullies themselves. They end up being expelled from school due to their behaviour and end up joining gangs as well,” said Ms Edwins.