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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 March 2008, 18:44 GMT
Violence rife in S Africa schools
Students at Ibhongo High School, in the heart of South Africa's biggest township Soweto, in class
Children in South Africa face more violence in schools than elsewhere
South Africa's Human Rights Commission has found that more than a fifth of sexual assaults on South African children happen in schools.

The commission's report also said that school was the most common site of assault and robbery against pupils.

No fewer than 40% of children interviewed said they had been the victims of crime at school.

The report urged the introduction of metal detectors and other measures to improve school security.

It cited cases of seven-year-old children playing a game called "rape me, rape me", to demonstrate how endemic sexual violence in South Africa was.

Impact on classroom

"An area of serious concern," the authors wrote, "was that of an educator accused of sexual assault or rape, who remained teaching the alleged victim, pending disciplinary measures taken."

More widely, violence in schools was found to be inseparable from the communities they served, with exposure to domestic violence, gangsterism, and drugs having a big impact on pupils' performance in the classroom.

"A school is often a mirror image of the community and the families it serves," the report said. "Schools therefore cannot address violence in isolation."

The Commission found that the slightest provocation could lead to one pupil assaulting another - and that teachers often left the profession because of psychological violence and physical assault by pupils.

Your comments:

We lived as expats in South Africa in 2003-2004. I worked in a school in Diepsloot settlement. Girls as young as 6 were being "pimped" by male relatives. A girl in my class was abducted, gang raped, run over by a car, and left for dead. She survived, but got poor medical care, and was put in a home situation where she was blamed for her attack. Most female teenagers we met had been sexually assaulted by age 16. We could not give the kids even pencils or fruit to take home, because it would put them at risk for violence.
Shelly Trost, McHenry, IL USA

How many hundred years will it take before living conditions in Africa improve? It is incredible really. How long can it keep getting worse? Amazing. Why is it that every single African country appears unable to govern itself, to control crime, violence, etc? Is it really all due to lack of resources and coruption or is there something else wrong?
dood, San Jose, Costa Rica

I grew up in South Africa and moved to USA a couple of years ago. It is a very big country. So, you cannot make a judgement from reading about 1% portion of the country. Here in Washington DC and Maryland there are killings almost everyday including gang violence and nobody blows it out of proportion and write it on all African newspapers. Instead Americais displayed as a "PERFECT COUNTRY". All I am saying is every country has its own problems!
Vangile, USA

how can you take a culture based on tribal influences for thousands of years and force them to adapt within 100 years to a modern age? you cannot. Thats the problem. Its not race, nor color of skin. It is the culteral beliefs, greed, lack of real education, and the racial history of Africa that is the problem. How to fix this? There is no way to completely fix this situation until everyone in africa forgets their culteral hatreds, and individual greed and starts to focus on the common good for all. And it better happen soon, for I think with the global warming trends, rising food prices, and spiraling AIDS epidemics, Africa will soon find that the wealthy nations will not continue to feed them in every sence of the word.
stu, calagry alberta canada

Country profile: South Africa
29 Feb 08 |  Country profiles
Timeline: South Africa
29 Feb 08 |  Country profiles

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