"The majority of cases we observed indicate that unresolved issues led to violent attacks. Furthermore, the attacks have widely occurred outside school premises. We have also observed the rise in a gang-related activity involving learners and violent incidents ending in unnecessary loss of life.
"The department is very concerned that the violence has increasingly spilt into schools, causing untold emotional trauma and disruption to the learning and teaching environment," Mhlanga said.
Various interventions have been introduced by the department to curb school violence and bullying. Among these is the long-standing protocol agreement with the South African Police Service. The agreement sees 18 000 schools linked to police stations within their vicinity. The agreement entails the police conducting random visits to educate learners about the dangers of crime and violence, starting with bullying.
Mhlanga said the department has also developed conduct of ethics for learners which, among other things, says a learner is expected to:
accept that the main reason for being in school is to learn and develop academically, socially and culturally;
adhere to school rules;
respect the legitimacy and authority of teachers;
participate in Learner Representative Councils (LRCs) to safeguard your interests;
show respect to other learners and not discriminate; and
avoid anti-social behaviour like theft, vandalism, assault, sexual harassment, alcohol and drug abuse, as well as other activities that disrupt the learning process.
Mhlanga said the department is deeply concerned that despite the measures, the anti-violence strategy appears not to be yielding results.
"The strategy requires all stakeholders to play their part in making sure that the policies and guidelines are effectively implemented. Crime prevention and the teaching of positive values and morals require a joint effort from all stakeholders, as violent tendencies are not just a direct influence, but emanate from society."
(With Inputs from South African Government Press Release)