School boy’s haircut – racist or instilling discipline?

Dr Ellapin Rapiti, Kenwyn

With the apparent increase in attacks on females within our communities and the spate of how and when these crimes are committed, shockwave upon shockwave have sparked community and social media outrage and international media attention.Bodies are found brutally murdered and mutilated. Bodies are found in shallow graves or are tossed like dirt into ditches.

Why have these heinous attacks and callous murders of women in our communities increased at such an alarming rate? What is it that has sparked such malice towards our women, children and mothers?

During Child Protection Week earlier this year, the director of the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children (SBCWC) in Surrey Estate, Shaheema McLeod, said that brutality and violence against women and children are rising. She said, “Children are trusting individuals, and as parents we need to educate (our) young children not to be (too) trusting because often it is those close to the children who commit these heinous crimes.”

It is ironic, too, that Karabo Mokoena, whose passion it was to help abused women, met her demise when she was brutally murdered and then consumed by fire, allegedly by her boyfriend. In light of these heinous crimes committed on such a regular basis, everyone proclaims that South Africa is such a beautiful country. I, too, believe that South Africa is a beautiful country, but with corruption and evil predators plaguing the people of our country, it has become unsafe and unsuitable for its own citizens to feel free in their own space.

It is time for a major wake-up call.

If the South African government truly want to resurrect their faith and show their solidarity to each and every South African citizen again, bring back the death penalty.

Please bring back the death penalty.

Wherever we go, we hear people say, “Our children are the leaders of tomorrow”. If that is so, surely our children need someone to look up to today?

The decision by Wynberg Boys’ School to insist that one of its learners conform to the school’s regulations when it comes to hairstyle has sparked off a huge emotional debate on social media whether it is racism or discipline.

If the rules apply across the board to all children of all races, then the rule should not be seen as being racist. If the style, “stepping” can be done on all types of hair, from what I hear, then it has nothing to do with hair texture or custom.

The question that we should be asking is: would permitting the “stepping” style hairdo veer the school towards allowing children to indulge in fashion when it comes to school dress codes? If the school does allow their pupils to indulge in fashion in its school attire, it could open up the floodgates to a host of other styles. This could eventually lead to changing the entire attire.

If the aim of uniformity is to guard against subtle but damaging fashion competition and to institute discipline, then there might be merit in stipulating what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to school dress code.

If all other black and coloured children and their parents are happy with the school’s rules then it is going to be difficult to make an exception for one child.

If abiding by the generally accepted dress code is aimed at instituting discipline from a young age, can it be a bad idea, I wonder?

Instilling discipline is vital for an individual’s development and character building.

I recall listening to an American psychology professor talking about a vitamin that our children are not getting, which is the cause of so much ill-discipline among our children and youth. He called it vitamin N for “No”.

He cited the example of how easily children get what they want because they lack discipline.

If they don’t get the latest phone, they would kick up a tantrum and break the phone. The guilty parents feel that they have done something seriously wrong so they go out and buy the latest phone and in this way, the child wins all the time.

Such a child becomes ill-disciplined as an adult because he/she has always been getting it his/her way.

We don’t have to look too far: just look at our matric balls. Parents on the Cape Flats can spend between R10 000 to R15 000 for matric balls, which have absolutely nothing to do with education but the same parents will not pay school fees or have money for textbooks.

About 25 years ago a poor single mom brought her child to me asking me to speak to him because he demanded a pair of Pepe jeans to wear to his matric exams because everyone else was going to wear it. He did not want to feel out among his peers.

His mother worked in the leather industry and earned a meagre R300 a week under difficult conditions so she could not afford to buy such an expensive pair of jeans but the child was adamant that he must have it.

I tried my best to instil into the young man’s mind the principle that clothes should not determine who you are and that his poor mother was struggling to keep the family alive because his dad disappeared from the scene. I am not sure whether the child took my advice but that consultation remains very vivid in my mind till today.

I personally have never supported the trend of expensive matric balls and I am pleased that both my children agreed with me that it is a waste. I know many others would disagree with me, especially the super-rich father in Gauteng who spent R50 000 for his daughter’s matric dress and said he was very happy to spend it on his “queen”.

We must stop making children feel like victims when we are trying to instil discipline into them; a failure to instil discipline from an early age will cost us dearly and make brutes of our children when they become adults.

Dress code is part of discipline. Pilots and police have to be in uniform as a sign that they are in charge.

Finally, school rules should be written by governing bodies made up of parents from all races to ensure that the rules are just and equitable.