SA Journal of Education, Volume 38, Supplement 1, October 2018

Victims’ experiences of learner challenging behaviour in primary schools in Phoenix, South Africa

Julie Shantone Rubbi Nunan


Victims’ experiences of learner challenging behaviour in South African primary schools are an ongoing problem that is cause for concern, where additionally, the parents of the perpetrators are unapologetic, and defending their wrongdoing. In this scenario, there is little teachers can do to address ill-disciplined learners. In effect, teacher helplessness has further intensified the problem in primary schools. To establish the way in which the victims experience challenging behaviour, face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with a sample of six learners (N = 6). Results indicate that the victims continuously suffer at the hands, and indeed the feet, of violent learners. Furthermore, as their cries go unheard, the problem remains persistent. Since schools have been failing to respond effectively to learner challenging behaviour, this article recommends immediate intervention by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to offer a more constructive solution to this problem, one that will effect change and offer relief and protection to the victims. The article concludes that victims continue to suffer, with little or no safeguarding from teachers. Future research ought to include the role of teachers in safeguarding learners against learner victimisation and challenging behaviour in primary schools.

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