Umlazi pupils cautioned on using new technologies

Learners often go to school to learn more about the different subjects in their curriculum, however, 500 school children from Umlazi Township, KwaZulu-Natal, were enlightened on dangers of using new technologies as part of commemorating the Child Protection Week.

The event, hosted at Umlazi Comtech High School, saw learners from Ndukwenhle, Umlazi Commercial, Naledi, Ogwini, and Zwelethu High Schools enlightened about cyber bullying and sexting on 1 June 2016, which also marked International Children’s Day.

Children living in the 21st Century are exposed to new-age technologies, various social networking sites, unlimited access to the internet and chat rooms. As a result, the department in collaboration with the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster and the Film and Publications Board, engaged with learners on the danger of social networks and chat rooms.

Senior Legal Admin Officer responsible for Child Justice, Children’s Courts and Departmental Drug Master Plan, Ms Pritima Osman, advised children about cyber bulling and sexting, saying; “if somebody is threatening or giving out your personal information and making you feel unsafe, contact the police or an adult as soon as you can.”

The internet, and to some extent, mobile phones, create a ‘virtual’ world in which most children spend a lot of their time without parental supervision. This virtual world, said Ms Osman, has no personal contact with others, which makes it possible for sexting and cyber bullying to flourish.

She encouraged children to report bullying to their teachers, “If you experience cyber bullying from your schoolmates, report immediately to your teachers,” she advised.

Enlightening learners about legal consequences of cyber bullying and sexting, Senior Public Prosecutor from the Durban Magistrate’s Court, Advocate Roshiela Benimadhoo said cyber bullying is so bad that there are many cases of children who committed suicide as they felt devastated after getting exposed on the internet.

Excited Wendy Nkomo, a Grade 10 learner at Zwelethu Secondary School, did not know about the danger of transmitting nude pictures on the internet. “Today I have learnt so much about dangers of using social media that I have not been aware of. I will definitely share what I learnt with my friends at home so that we can empower ourselves,” she said.

According to Mr Murendeni Muridili from the Film and Publications Board, children grow up spending too much time on the computer-generated world, where there is no personal contact with others but only messages and images. “Sending and sharing of nude or semi clothed pictures to another individual is a criminal act and can lead to a sentence,” he said. 

Representing the South African Police Services (SAPS), Warrant Officer Balan Reddy showed learners the different types of drugs and substances which are commonly used.  “We do lots of surprise visits at schools and we have found children with drugs such as woonga, dagga and cocaine,” said Mr Reddy.

By Mokgethwa Ngoepe



Published: 03 June 2016