Multi-pronged approach needed to address violence in schools - ISS

ISS researcher Patrick Burton said frequent law enforcement patrols would help and, more importantly, communities and stakeholder organisations must assist.

FILE: Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi visits the scene where a grade eight pupil from Forest High School in the south of Johannesburg died after being stabbed. Picture: @Lesufi/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said on Thursday a multi-pronged approach was needed to address school violence in the country.

The problem has been described as widespread and varied, with incidents across the country ranging from armed robberies by pupils to stabbings and shootings.

It’s also raised the debate about whether teachers should be armed to protect themselves and how social issues can be addressed to curb the violence.

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Director of the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention (CJCP) Patrick Burton said frequent law enforcement patrols would help and, more importantly, the community and stakeholder organisations must assist.

Burton said this was a better approach than using metal detectors and conducting searches at schools. He said these methods did not have a positive effect in the US, which also had to address violence in its schools.

“What works is the partnerships between the police, schools, parents and welfare and development agencies within all the spheres,” Burton said.

Burton shot down the idea that armed teachers could make schools safer.

“The idea that you have teachers wondering around classrooms being armed is absolutely counter-productive. There’s no evidence anywhere in the world that it’s part of the solution,” he said.

A social worker with the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders said the country did not have appropriate rehabilitation facilities for violent pupils.

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“Punishing them by putting them in environments that are more dangerous and have more negative influences won’t help anyone. We need to put them in environments where they can learn how to live in communities. We do not have centres,” said Vanessa Padayachee.