eMail alerts & Newsletter

Sign up to receive email updates when new content is loaded on the site.
Newsletter: From Evidence to Action

Editorial: Not child’s play

A NEW game being played out at primary schools, simulating rape on primary school playgrounds, has caused principals and parents in Mitchells Plain to raise the alarm. 

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer points out that this kind of behaviour rarely occurs in a vacuum. The facts make for grim reading and support Schäfer’s assertion: the Mitchells Plain School Governing Body Association, which represents 90 schools in the area, reports that about 150 cases of rape, attempted rape and sexual harassment at primary and high schools have been brought to its attention in the past year.

Kathleen Dey, director of Rape Crisis, says South Africa has a worrying “rape culture”, even though the game did not make the children playing it potential rapists. As an intervention, the organisation runs a sex education campaign at high schools. She was shocked by the number of pupils who thought rape was “not that serious”. That the game is being played at primary schools suggests that interventions should happen earlier. If the rape game is manifesting itself among younger children, it follows that the intervention should happen earlier.

The basic premise of respect for the other’s body, sexuality and the age old topic of the “birds and the bees” should start at home but should by now be extended to the primary school curriculum. By burying our heads in the sand, we risk depriving our children of the knowledge they need to protect themselves against abuse. Last year, the Department of Basic Education launched a national “Stop Rape” campaign, in partnership with Lead SA, in Mitchells Plain.

The campaign targeted some 10 million school children, with pupils adopting a pledge in a bid to contain the scourge. But educating the children is half the battle won. Last week, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga revealed that 333 teachers have been charged with sexually abusing young girls over the past three years. The educators found guilty should be made an example of and should receive the strongest possible sanction.

Editorial: Not child’s play