The suicide of a 15-year-old schoolgirl has once again brought the issue of bullying into focus.
Asanda Thethwayo died last week because she was allegedly being mocked at school.
The Grade 10 pupil, who will be buried today in Folweni, had apparently told her family that she hated going to school because of constantly being teased about having “thick” lips and a chipped tooth.
Her uncle, Nkanyiso Thethwayo, said they were struggling to come to terms with her death.
Thethwayo said Asanda had only spoken up about being bullied at school on the day she ended her life.
“She explained to us that she was facing a lot of difficulty at school due to bullying and had to wear a mask for the entire day at school to hide her features. She told us that she was never happy at school and only found happiness at home,” he said.
Thethwayo said she then collapsed in their presence and was taken to hospital.
He said Asanda loved her books, watching television and was open and conversed with her family members.
Commenting on the problem of bullying, education psychologist Nicola Buhr said about 57% of children report having been affected at some point during high school.
“In my practice, I have seen bullying occur in every age group, sex, gender and demographic. Individuals who are frequently bullied include individuals with physical, learning or mental disabilities. Other individuals are targeted for differences in race, ethnicity, religion or sexual preference.”
Buhr recommended various forms of intervention.
“Schools need to have bullying policies in place. Children need to have a safe manner in which to report the bullying without feeling threatened or that it will increase the bullying.
Schools need to create an environment that is characterised by positive involvement from adults that has firm limits on unacceptable behaviour with consistent consequences in place for unacceptable behaviour,” she said.
News Hub Creator firstname.lastname@example.org