What to do if your child is harmed by a teacher
IF YOUR child returned home from school with tear-stained cheeks and red welts across their thighs, your first instinct might be to call the school and demand an explanation.
But, what if it was a member of staff who inflicted the harm in the first place? What’s the protocol then?
Spanking, a ruler to the knuckles or even a slap of the wrist are examples of corporal punishment.
In the school context, it’s defined as the intentional exertion of physical force against a pupil by a teacher, or another supervising adult, in response to undesired behaviour.
For the past 22 years, any form of such punishment has been banned by the SA Schools Act Section 10(1) which states that no person may administer corporal punishment at a pupil.
Any person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a sentence which could be imposed for assault.
Although this law has been in effect for the past two decades, statistics from Statistics SA reveals a harrowing reality.
Their 2016 survey found that 11.5% (1.2 million) children attending school aged 7–17, reported having experienced some form of violence at school in the three months prior to the survey period.
What should you do if your child has received corporal punishment at school by a supervising adult?
The South African Council for Educators (Sace) shared how to lodge a complaint against a teacher on their website (www.sace.org.za):
It is highly preferred that complaints be in writing and signed by the complainant, his or her legal representative, union representative or any other person lodging the complaint on behalf of the complainant.
It may be faxed, emailed, posted or hand delivered. Complaints may also be lodged via telephone.
A complaint must be comprehensive and must contain all the relevant dates, facts, supported by relevant documentation and other evidence.
The following information must also be supplied: the complainant’s name, mail delivery address and contact telephone numbers.
If the complainant is representing a victim, the name of the victim must also be included.
Should a complainant wish to remain anonymous, the following information must be supplied; name of the person(s) against whom the complaint is lodged; name of the school involved if a pupil is involved, the name of the learner, the school he/she is attending and the grade, and full particulars regarding the complaint (what happened) date of the incident, etc.
A letter of complaint should be forwarded to chief executive officer, SA Council for Educators, Private Bag X 127, Centurion 0046.
The letter may be hand delivered to chief executive officer, SA Council for Educators, 240 Lenchen Avenue, Centurion 0046 or emailed to [email protected] sace.org.za.
What the procedure for dealing with a complaint entails:
Sace said upon receipt of the complaint, it was registered; the person complained of (alleged accused was informed about the allegations against him/her) and request for a written reply with regards to the allegations within 10 days and in some cases within 5 days depending on the nature of the complaint.
A letter will also be sent to the other parties mentioned in the allegations, including the complainant.
Once a response is received, it is read and a recommendation will be prepared for the Ethics Committee.
The Ethics Committee guides the processes and will determine whether a complaint warrants an investigation, mediation, or discipline.
Refer the complaint to the relevant authority or body such as the Department of Education, the Education Labour Relations Council, the police.
A complaint must be comprehensive and contain all the relevant dates, facts, documentation, evidence
South African Council for Educators