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Chapter 12

PERSONNEL MATTERS

12.22 EDUCATORS: HARASSMENT

12.22.1Legislative and Policy Framework

ACTS

  • The South African Schools Act, No. 84 of 1996 [SASA]
  • South African Council for Educators Act 31 of 2000 [SACE]
  • The National Education Policy Act, 1996 (Act No. 27 of 1996) [NEPA]
  • Regulations for Safety Measures at Schools (Government Gazette GG 29376 of 10 November 2006) [SAFETY 2006]
  • Protection from Harassment Act 17 of 2011 [HAR]

 

GUIDELINE

  • Personnel Administration Measures [PAM]

 

OTHER

  • Protocol for the Management and Reporting of Sexual Abuse and Harassment in Schools [PROTOCOL HARASSMENT]

12.22.2Framework for the Development of School Policy on Educators: Harassment

It is important to note that there are multiple tools available to the victim of harassment and the victim may decide on the process to be followed in addressing his/her grievance. The School’s Harassment Policy Document is in effect a complementary instrument aimed at the prevention/restriction of harassment in the school environment.

  1. What details should a Harassment Policy for Schools contain?
    What the institution strives to create.
    A safe environment in which:

    • self-worth and respect can thrive
    • diversity is embraced and ‘difference’ can be exercised
    • individual and collective safety is a priority
    • the process of teaching and learning is maximised
  2. The effects of Harassment:
    Harassment militates against all the above and results in:

    • low morale and troubled relationships
    • lack of respect
    • low productivity
    • compromised health – physical/mental/emotional distress
    • absenteeism
    • resignations/drop-outs
  3. What is Harassment?
    The following definition is based on the Protection from Harassment Act (Act 17 of 2011). It is only one of many definitions of what harassment means but it serves as a sound working model.

    • Harassment  includes both direct and indirect conduct that either causes harm or that inspires the person complaining of harassment (“the complainant”) to reasonably believe that harm may be caused;
    • Such conduct includes following, watching, pursuing or accosting of the complainant;
    • Harassment also includes contact through verbal communication and/or electronic communication aimed at the complainant that causes harm or makes the complainant feel in danger of being harmed;
    • Several forms of written communication such as letters, packages and e-mails are also able to be used for the purposes of harassment.
    • It also includes sexual harassment, which means “any unwelcome sexual attention from a person who knows or who reasonably knows that such attention is unwelcome”. Such sexual attention includes unwelcome behaviour, suggestions, messages or remarks of a sexual nature that have the effect of “offending, intimidating or humiliating” the complainant.
  4. Harassment may be broken down into the following broad categories in the school environment:
    • Humiliation  in respect of age, gender, race, religion, disability;
    • Victimisation by means of physical or verbal threats, aggressive, destructive remarks;
    • Bullying may be physical (including all sexually oriented bullying), verbal, by means of gestures, rejection, social isolation.
  5. What can be expected from school management in response to incidents of harassment at both learner and staff level?
    • Consistency, reasonableness and fairness.
    • Awareness of results of decisions especially where they may be deemed to be undemocratic.
    • Unhappiness and disputes handled on a one-to-basis; maintenance of strict confidentiality and proper storage of all documentation.
    • Support to both staff and/or learner (including the offender) where this is deemed to be necessary.
  6. What can be expected from the personnel of the school in response to incidents of harassment among learners?
    • Management will demand ethical, values-driven action from staff members at all times.
    • All actions must reflect respect, professionalism and constructive correction.
  7. What is harassment NOT?
    (This applies specifically to personnel and is based on the not unreasonable assumption that a teacher is a professional person.)

    • Being directed to fulfil the duties for which one was appointed.
    • Being required to operate according to the general education policy of the school.
  8. Process
    How does one go about reporting/addressing a case of harassment?
    The process will be determined by the complainant within the parameters of the school’s policy and the formally established legal prescripts.

    • Informal
    • Mediation
    • Formal. This process requires:
      • written statements
      • thorough investigation
      • Record-keeping and safe-keeping of such records
      • Careful consideration and appointment of the person to head the investigation.

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