Anyone who has ever attended an educational institution in any nation in the world has either experienced or seen bullying of individuals. It is the one universal aspect of education that all students know. Last week, a young boy in a South African school, who was wearing a black mask, stabbed a fellow student to death with a sword. He also wounded three other children. The boy’s parents told the press, “he is very small and short for his age….where we could we defended him and in some instance spoke to the bullies, but we also accepted it as part of life. We never realized the true impact this emotional and physical abuse had on him.” The parents of Morne Harmse, said their son told them, “when I put the mask over my face, everything went dead quiet and only my body moved. I wanted to stop but I couldn’t.”
The parents are upset and confused and, most probably, slightly angry that for years schools did nothing to protect their child from bullies. The Columbine shooting in Denver years ago involved two boys who had been bullied. Teachers or administrators who turn the head so not to see will eventually see the result in a form of violence. Until schools become a community of children and adults the fear of bullies will dominate.