Monthly Archives: June 2013

Bullying at school


I don’t know about you but here where I live, bullying behaviour in schools is fast becoming a daily activity. In addition to having a heavy load of school work to do, our students still have to cope with being bullied as well.

Is it the same in your neck of the woods (where you live)?

I thought we could look at the subject of bullying in schools to shed some more light on this subject.

Bulling is defined as the intentional, repeated hurtful words or acts or other behaviour committed by a child or children against another child or children (Nesser et al 2003:127).

It is also defined as the repeated oppression, either psychological or physical of a less powerful person by a more powerful person (Rigby 1996:15).

According to Nesser et al, the act of bullying can be characterised by six defining factors:
• Intent to harm, with the bully finding pleasure in taunting others
• Intensity and duration, in that bullying continues over a longer period of time
• Exercising of power over the victim because of the bully’s age, size, strength or gender
• Selection of victims who appear vulnerable owing to their apparent inability to defend themselves
• Lack of support experienced by the victim, causing underreporting of incidents of bullying
• Long-lasting consequences such as the victim withdrawing from school activities

There are different forms of bullying: physical, verbal, relational, emotional and/or sexual in nature. Let’s look at these individually.

Physical abuse:
Direct actions: hitting, kicking, pushing, punching, poking, strangling, suffocating, burning, poisoning, hair pulling, biting, stabbing and/or shoving.
Indirect actions: Encouraging someone else to commit the assault

Verbal abuse:
Direct actions: persistent name-calling, insulting, teasing and gossiping. This is the most common form of bullying.
Indirect actions: persuading another student to insult someone, spreading malicious rumours

Relational abuse:
Direct actions: Threatening or when the child is deliberately excluded from group activities
Indirect actions: Excluding the victim from group activities

Emotional abuse:
Direct actions: terrorising, defaming, humiliating, corrupting, blackmailing and ostracising
Indirect actions: Encouraging someone to terrorise or humiliate the victim

Sexual abuse:Direct actions: touching, penetrating, harassing, exhibitionism and sexual harassment
Indirect actions: telling jokes of a sexual nature, reference to sexual acts. Also: bra snapping and “pantsing” (pulling down the trousers of boys or pulling up girls dresses), “ratting” on other people, displaying or circulating pornography material, name calling (slut, whore, lag, lesbian), teasing a person about his/her sexual activities, wearing clothes with sexually offensive words, displaying affection (“making out”) on school premises, making suggestive comments about clothing.

According to Nesser et al 2003:128; Rigby 1996:72, the characteristics of the school bully are generally as follows:
• Bigger and physically stronger than the victim
• Lacks parental supervision
• Abuses alcohol and drugs
• Displays aggressive and impulsive behaviour
• Lacks sympathy for the victim
• Is self-involved, i.e. concerned only with his/her own needs and pleasure
• Refuses to accept responsibility for own actions
• Likes to dominate others

There are three common categories of bullies (Nesser et al 2003:129):
Proactive bullies – more aggressive by nature and need no provocation to hurt or humiliate another person
Reactive bullies – were previously victims themselves and retaliate by bullying other smaller and weaker people
Proactive victims – provoke fights with other children. If challenged they are quick to cry or display exaggerated responses

So, having said all this, what can be done to prevent or reduce bullying at schools? You could try one or more of these strategies:

• Teachers, Administrators and students must understand what bullying means
• Different forms of bullying must be identified and described
• The extent of bullying must be determined by means of observations and questionnaires. This may enable the school to develop an anti-bullying policy
• An anti-bullying committee consisting of staff, parents and students must be established and it should plan awareness and prevention activities
• Anti-bullying activities should become part of the school curriculum

Are your children being bullied at school?

Do you know a child or children who are bullying others at school?

What are you doing or going to do about it?



Reading an article in our local community newspaper today, was the first time I ever heard of this disorder. Have you heard of this disorder before?

Well, apparently this disorder results in birth defects when mothers continuously consume alcohol during their pregnancies. The age of a child with FASD can be halved to see where they are developmentally. FASD causes physical, cognitive and behavioural disabilities, all of which have lifelong implications.

Educational perspective:
Most children with FASD are specifically affected in cognitive processing, executive functioning, motor functioning, attention and hyperactivity, social skills and pragmatic language. They often have sensory problems, poor ability to understand the perspectives of others, poor cause-effect reasoning, memory defects and difficulty responding appropriately to common parenting and teaching practices.

Essentially, children with FASD are brain damaged and everyday life can be a major challenge for them. Everyday for a child with FASD is like climbing a mountain as they struggle to learn and grasp the simplest concepts.

Children with FASD are easily distracted and need to be taught in separate cubicles. They work best in controlled and structured environments. They are destructive, they do not listen, fight, throw toys and don’t have social skills. Sometimes they scream when they can’t get their way immediately. This is when they need to be given time to calm down before they can continue with their activities.

FASD cannot be cured, but the intervention methods used and coping mechanisms they are taught can prevent the disorder from progressing. FASD children do not understand abstract concepts. For example: if you say “you are the apple of my eye”, they will say I am not an apple and I am not in your eye, because they don’t understand.

The Home of Hope in Table View, Cape Town, Western Cape, runs the only school in South Africa for children with FASD, called The Amathemba School which was started in 2010 and the first of its kind in Africa.

Volunteers will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro on 9 September 2013 to raise funds to extend the school’s services to more children. The significance of 9 September is that it is International FASD day and also represents the nine (9) months a woman needs to abstain from drinking alcohol.

To help donate to their climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, please telephone +27 21 556-3573

Adapted from original article in Athlone News (Community Newspaper) 26 June 2013: pg 22 – written by Faatimah Hendricks

Have you heard about Beth?


Have you ever considered the effects of abuse on a child? Have you ever thought about what it’s like for them?

To see the effects of abuse on a child, you need to watch this.

This is only part one. Please go on to YouTube to get the rest of the interview.

Do yourself a favour and get the DVD called Child of Rage and see exactly what this child had to endure to understand this interview.

Not for the faint hearted!

Do you know that we also have a Facebook page? Why don’t you “like” our Facebook page and chat to us sometime?

You can find us at:

Gender and Crime

Red Book with Pen

The questions I have been asking are:

1) Are more crimes committed by men than women? If so, why?
2) Are crimes committed by men more violent than those committed by women? Is violent crime gendered? If so, why?
3) How does gender affect specific types of criminality (eg rape, domestic violence, theft)?

Is it just my perception or have females always committed less crime than men? Do gender roles impact on the difference in crime rates between males and females?

Can certain characteristics like aggressiveness, physical strength and competitiveness be closely aligned with masculinity and criminal behaviour?

A few responses to my questions from various sources raised the following issues:

• Traditional female roles have been closely linked to submissiveness, weakness and passivity. This can be seen as contradictory to male behaviour and can also be seen as being incompatible with the qualities required for criminal behaviour, which makes it more difficult for women to gain access to criminal behaviour.

• What about other factors such as opportunity to commit crime, social controls and differential associations – can this be used to explain why females commit less crime than men?

• Do boys have more opportunities than men because they are allowed more autonomy and freedom to make choices for themselves which increases their preference for risk i.e. they are subjected to more informal social control growing up and because women are rejected access to the public sphere more than males?

• What about the fact that girls experience more social control from the family than boys do, and have stronger familial bonds. These familial bonds create stronger informal social controls which decreases the risk to commit crime. Girls are kept busy inside the home ie. They have to help with housework, cooking and taking care of siblings, which leaves them with less time in the day to even think of committing crime.

So, do boys/men commit more crime purely because they have more time available to them and don’t have as many social controls placed on them?

Do men commit crime as a means of constructing their masculinity to express to others and to themselves?
What about women in prostitution – are they there because they choose to be there or because they are compelled by circumstances?

How can we explain why females engage in crime?

• Females have always committed less crime than men – research has shown that gender roles have some impact on the disparity in crime rates between males and females.

• The gender gap is greatest for serious crime and at least for other petty forms of crime

• Several types of crime may lead to females committing crime under the proper circumstances

• Female crime is usually explained in terms of oppression

Gender differences and criminal thinking
Research done to date on gender and criminal thinking errors indicates that there are differences between men and women. As this is a very recent area of research, results are still emerging. This is what we know so far:

1. Risky interpersonal relationships are often connected with criminal behaviour for women. Social relationships shape women’s thinking patterns and influence their behaviour (Havens, et al 2009)

2. Incarcerated women may develop distorted thinking about behaviour that puts them at increased risk for entering risky relationships (Havens, et al 2009)

3. Women tend to have more psychological distress, depression and anxiety when compared with men, as well as self-reported lower self-esteem and lower confidence in decision-making (Staton-Tindall, et al 2007)

4. Co-occuring disorders such as substance abuse and mental health issues are also common for women in the criminal justice system ((Staton-Tindall et al 2007)

5. Females have been shown to score higher than males on problem avoidance on the PICTS (Critical Thinking Test) (Staton-Tindall, et al 2007)

6. Males have been shown to score more highly for cold heartedness than females (Staton-Tindall, et al 2007)
Source: NICRO Participant Manual 2013©: Criminal Behaviour Foundations: Understanding Criminal Thinking

What do you think about all this information? Do share your views/comments. I look forward to hearing what you have to say regarding these questions.

Gender and Criminal Offending


Good Day everyone from a cold, wet and windy Wintery Cape Town, Western Cape in the Republic of South Africa.

This is the time of year when we all wear layers of clothing or thick bulky jackets and jumpers (or jerseys as we refer to them here in South Africa).

What are we going to talk about today?

I have the following question going around in my head and wonder what your response would be to this question:

Why is an understanding of gender critical to understanding criminal offending, victimization and criminal justice responses?

What do you think?

Please share your views/opinions with us. We would like to hear from you.

We’re in a happy place . . .

Flower Smiley Face Animation

The Cape of Addicts – The New Age (newspaper) [front page] 6 June 2013
• A report reveals one million Western Cape residents are prone to alcohol and drug abuse
• 5 million South Africans are on a high
• An average of eleven percent of South Africans will suffer a drug or alcohol disorder
• Twenty percent of Western Cape inhabitants are prone to alcohol and drug disorders
• There has been an increase in drug patients in the 14 – 17 year age group from nineteen percent in 2012 to twenty two percent in 2013
• Eighteen percent of the patients admitted for treatment in the past year fell into the 18 – 21 age group
• Male patients at eighty five percent outnumber females at fifteen percent
• Fifty three percent of the patients in treatment have a Grade 10 education or less
• Twenty five percent of all patients in treatment are below the age of seventeen years
• Patients with tertiary education undergoing treatment are at nine percent
• Of the patients in SANCA centres, fifty eight percent are African (Black), twenty two percent are Coloured, seventeen percent are White and three percent are Asian

Do we have a crisis? No, of course not. According to the President of South Africa all South Africans are happy – we are a happy nation in a happy place and everybody should stop talking so negatively about South Africa. Things are not as bad as people make them out to be. We are happy 

Shock Sex Crime Stats Revealed – Cape Argus (newspaper) [page 2] 6 June 2013
• Nearly 25,000 people were sexually assaulted in the Western Cape in the past year (according to figures released by the Provincial Department of Health). This equates to 68 people being sexually violated in the province every day.
• The latest figures revealed huge disparities between the number of sexual assaults reported to the Police and those reported to health care centres.
• 24,946 people were treated at the province’s four Thuthuzela Care Centres, clinics and hospitals between April 2012 and March 2013. This was more than double the number of sexual offences reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS).
• The 2011/2012 crime statistics show that the Western Cape had 9,153 sexual offences, while nationally this figure stood at 64,514.
• Between 2010/2011 – 9,299 cases were reported to the Police, while in the previous year the number stood at 9,678.
• Sexual assault cases presented to the province’s health centres in the past five months stood at 7,517.
• Of last year’s total figures of sexual assaults, almost 2,400 involved children under the age of 13, mostly girls, while 449 boys received treatment

Although there has been an increase in reporting of sexual assaults and rape compared to what it used to be a decade ago, there is still huge under-reporting.

According to Dr Roy Chuunga who runs the country’s oldest Thuthuzela Centre at GF Jooste Hospital:-
• More survivors are presenting themselves than ten years ago, but these are not even close to what we should be seeing. This suggests that sexual crimes are still under-reported.
• Sexual assault victims (survivors) are more likely to seek health care than reporting the matter to the Police.
• A major factor contributing to under-reporting was that the majority of perpetrators were known to the victims, and sometimes breadwinners of families.
• In the Western Cape, young people between the ages of 13 and 35 years were more likely to be raped than any other age group.

Zuma: We created a better life for all
South Africans’ quality of life has improved immensely since the advent of democracy, President Jacob Zuma has told foreign diplomats . . .

Wow! After reading all this, I’m exhausted! What is wrong with the men in our country? Where did we go wrong?

I know that rape, sexual abuse, sexual assault and incest are not new phenomena. They have been around since Biblical times and we are probably just more aware of the incidents because more people are coming forward and reporting the incidents rather than hiding behind closed doors.

I do believe, however, that the violence attached to these incidents is aggravating the issue. In the past it was not uncommon for a wife to be raped by her husband, a child raped by her father, grandfather or uncle but these remained behind closed doors because there was no evidence of physical violence. The wife – on the rare occasion that she dared to complain to someone would be told that it was her “lot in life” and her duty to keep her husband happy. Children were never believed and as a result, rather remained silent about what was going on. They were also threatened with harm (either to them or their mother or siblings) if they spoke out, so silence was the best option.

When the woman or girl child was forced into submission, it was usually done in such a way that no physical scars were evident, however, these days women and girl children (and even boys) are violently attacked, stabbed with a sharp object, struck with a blunt object and sometimes disembowelled or killed as it is becoming common in the Western Cape these days.

Why is this happening? Mitigating factors in court cases often involve intoxication by drugs or alcohol – how much of the behaviour can be blamed on drugs or alcohol? Is this not just an excuse to get out of punishment for the crime? There have been instances in the past where drugs or alcohol are deliberately consumed before the crime is committed so the perpetrators had a defence against prosecution.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child


As we come to the end of Child Protection Week here in South Africa, here is a link to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in child friendly language

What are you doing to protect our children?