Every day we see more and more news headlines sending shock waves through South Africa about school children taking their own lives and the reason behind it is BULLYING.
Whether a child physically assaults another child or “innocently” makes fun of them by making remarks or jokes about their appearances it both falls under the term BULLY and should be stopped.
Bullying has become such a new norm in schools that children are even taking videos of victims being assaulted or made fun of and post it on social media platforms to get more likes and followers but in real life an innocent child is silently suffering.
All schools are obliged to have a Code of Conduct in terms of the South African Schools Act and all the learners are bound to these rules. Should bullying occur, the victim or any child who sees the bullying should report it and the bully should then be dealt with in accordance with the code of conduct.
The question now is what can be done to these bullies in terms of the Law?
- Any child that is a victim of bullying or the guardian/parent of the child can take the case to Court in terms of the Children’s Act of 2005. This however is not to punish the child but to rehabilitate him/her by going through certain programs and processes.
- Children from the young age of 10 years old can be held criminally liable for bullying in terms of the Child Justice Act of 2008 and should a criminal case be opened against him, the justice system will deal according their respective ages with a child offender. The main aim will also be not to punish the child but rather focus on the rehabilitation to prevent bullying to occur again.
- A victim child or his/her parent or guardian may apply for a protection order in terms of the Protection from Harassment Act. This order serves as an interdict against the bully and should any further bullying or harassment occur after such an order was granted, a criminal case will be opened against him.
- Civil claims as well as criminal charges can be opened against a School or an offender depending on the facts of each case as well as the seriousness of the offence.
Should your child be a victim of bullying it would be advisable to immediately report it at the School -even if it is not that serious - to prevent it from escalating and to never take the law into your own hands. Rather seek legal assistance first to get the best advice on how to deal with a bully.