Jailtime for school bullies in South Africa

Minors between 10 and 18 years can be jailed for bullying under certain circumstances, the City Press reports.

The report comes in the wake of several suicides at high schools, with bullying considered a major contributing factor to teen suicide.

Rahman and Rahman managing director Mollica Maharaj told the paper that South Africa passed a law years ago — the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 — intending to eliminate bullying from schools.

Maharaj said the law lets children bring bullying cases to court with the goal of giving them support and protection so they don’t resort to suicide.

It also aims to rehabilitate bullies rather than punish them.

However, children guilty of bullying may be jailed as a last resort.

Such perpetrators are given the shortest possible prison sentence for the crime they are found guilty of. They must also be kept separate from adults and protected from unfair treatment or abuse.

Maharaj explained that a probation officer must assess the bully almost immediately after their arrest, and the perpetrator must appear for a preliminary hearing within 48 hours.

She also warned that the South African Schools Act may allow the state and public schools to be held liable for damage, injury, or loss suffered by a victim of bullying.

“This is likely when a school is aware of a specific pupil’s constant difficulties with bullies, but fails to intervene,” said Maharaj.

Maharaj said the law accounts for various forms of bullying, including physical assault, threats of violence, and verbal abuse.

Mollica Maharaj, Rahman and Rahman managing director

Concerns over bullying in South African schools come as Unesco wants smartphones banned in schools to improve learning, reduce disruptions, and protect learners from cyberbullying.

Unesco is the United Nations’ education, science, and culture agency.

Unesco director-general Audrey Azoulay believes people should be calling for technology in education to be regulated, similarly to how they have called for it in society.

“Its use must be for enhanced learning experiences and for the wellbeing of students and teachers, not to their detriment,” Azoulay said.

Sky News also recently reported that the UK is seeing an uptick in “bullying for content”.

This is where school children reportedly orchestrate an attack on one of their classmates to film and share it in private groups on platforms like Snapchat or WhatsApp.

One of South Africa’s most famous bullying stories predates social media and involves billionaire Elon Musk.

According to Musk’s father, Errol, his son was so severely beaten while attending Bryanston High that he couldn’t recognise him.

Musk’s father said he had to stay in a hospital in Sandton for two weeks to recover.

Following the attack, Musk’s parents pulled him out of Bryanston High and enrolled him at Pretoria Boys High, where he completed his school years from grade 10 to matric.

Now read: All the new cybercrimes in South Africa that can land you in jail for 15 years

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Jailtime for school bullies in South Africa