I can’t believe that we are still having to talk about bullying, but apparently we do.
It seems like every other day we hear of brutal bullying on school grounds.
There was the case of the 15-year-old Limpopo school girl, Lufuno Mavhunga, who committed suicide after a video made the rounds of another girl repeatedly slapping her through the face.
A month later, a Grade 8 girl from Athlone was humiliated when a boy set her hair alight in class, while taunting her.
A few days later, a Worcester matriculant died while suffering an epileptic fit at school.
His family believes it was because of head injuries he sustained during a beating he got at the hands of fellow pupils the previous day.
These incidents came to light because of how extreme they were, but I guarantee you there are others that we never get to hear about.
In each of the cases, there were other youngsters present, laughing along, cheering on the bully and even video recording the moment for posterity.
This leads us to a myriad of questions about how we have reached this place where our young people are so cavalier about cruelty.
Not just about dishing it out to the weakest among them, but to be cheerleaders of it.
It reminds me of some of the stories I’ve read about gladiator shows during the Roman Empire.
The crowd’s bloodlust became so unquenchable that they had to keep upping the ante, making every spectacle even more bloody and brutal than the previous one.
But that was over 2 000 years ago, when modern humanity was at its most primitive.
How do we find ourselves in almost that exact same place, despite the passage of time?
It’s clear that some adults cannot be trusted with the awesome responsibility of parenting.
I have often wondered why there isn’t a more rigorous vetting process before one is allowed to become a parent.
We need licences for everything else that requires responsible behaviour – from gun ownership to driving a car.
I feel we should be made to do extensive studies, before writing a tough exam that licenses us to be parents.
But in the absence of such an extreme, society does need some sort of compulsory control mechanism that will keep youngsters in check.
Not against the natural foolishness of youth, but against activities that will harm the more vulnerable among them; those who are naturally softer and unable to protect themselves.
Because right now it looks like we are breeding a colosseum of brutes and their misanthropic cheerleaders.