Education policy in South Africa emphasizes the importance of creating safe schools that encourage respect for human rights. The National Education Policy Act requires schools and school authorities to create an enabling education system that supports the full personal development of each learner, and contributes to the moral, social, cultural, political and economic development of the nation at large. It emphasizes the advancement of democracy, human rights and the peaceful resolution of disputes, and bans corporal punishment. Following its lead, a key goal of the Department’s School Safety Framework is to develop and maintain a safe, welcoming, violence-free learning environment.

Bullying constitutes a significant challenge to school safety, and undermines directly the creation of an enabling school environment that supports personal growth and development. It is arguably one of the most underrated and enduring problems in schools today, and while adults are often unaware of bullying, research shows that it is a reality in the lives of most South African children, whether they are bullies, victims or witnesses.

Bullying is not something educators should or have to accept. Bullying is not just a normal part of growing up. It goes against every child and young persons’ right to respect, safety and an education in a safe and nurturing environment, and given its possible consequences, must be addressed.