School bullies aged 10 to 18 might face legal consequences like jail or social service programs under new laws being explored.
According to the Children’s Act 38 of 2005, bullied students can bring cases to court for support and protection against the distress that might lead to tragic outcomes.
Mollica Maharaj, Attorney and Managing Director at Rahman and Rahman Law Firm, emphasizes that bullying has severe emotional impact, making school life unbearable.
Many bullied kids develop a strong aversion to school, isolation, and even contemplate suicide due to constant fear.
The Department of Basic Education calls for societal collaboration to address this issue.
The SABC reports that the Department of Basic Education spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga reveals all members of society should work together to deal with the issue of bullying.
“When, as a child, you feel bullied, you need to report it so that you can get the assistance that you need for it to stop. The deaths are troubling because there are families who are grieving the loss of their children through incidents of bullying, which could have been prevented.”
“By the time a child decided to take their own life, it would have been a long time of suffering silently or reporting, but someone not taking action.”
Plans for protection orders and potential jail time for bullies are being considered to tackle this growing problem.
Acts aimed at protecting children from bullying in South African law, include:
- The South African Schools Act;
- The Cyber Crime Act 2020;
- The Protection of Harassment Act 2008; and
- The Child Justice Act 2011.