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Brolloks En Bittergal
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Bullying and initiation

02 June 2014, 09:13

I see that bullying is currently again very topical after a child at some upper-class  Pietermaritzburg School complained of being bullied by the prefects.

This case also puts initiation under the spotlight.

Speaking for myself (and probably being a lone voice in conservative Afrikaner communities) I HATE initiation “ontgroening”. In my opinion it should be abolished and rooted out.

Not being a psychologist, I can imagine that this must be a fascinating subject.  I must disagree emphatically with those that say initiation helps fostering unity and pride in the structure or organisation that practise it. Their arguments regarding instilling discipline are even more hogwash. Whilst it is undeniably so that many people claim they have benefitted from initialisation rituals,  I have a different personality. (And I am also convinced I am not the only one on earth that is like that.)

I HATE any form of humiliation to build "team spirit."
I hated initiation in high school and in boarding school; I hated basic training in the army and I am sure I would have hated Kamp Staaldraad. I HATE being humiliated. 

I was bullied by prefects in boarding school and by corporals during basic training and junior leadership courses whilst in the army.

Am I a "softie" or gay? 

Gay I am most definitely not. I think I am not a "softie" either. I am not artistic, sadly, I think predominantly with my left brain. 

At school I was well-built and big and used to be a strong strong boy in std 5 and matric. I was the 100m and 400m hurdles champion and played rugby for the first team. I was not the dumbest in my class. I graduated at Unisa – not that that is an achievement any more. I am currently a professional person and in my fifties.

So what is wrong with me? I just don't like any rontf*kkery. I never did.
Finish and klaar.

The fact that I was strong and strong-willed counted against me in boarding school because I was seen as being "hansgat".

In the army it was even worse - my nickname was "NAFI" for a similar reason.

So, here is something that most people do not realise: Physically strong and strong-willed children are also bullied - sometimes more than others.

It is traditionally stated that: 

*The typical victim of bullying has an insecure personality;

*the typical victim of bullying has lower peer acceptance;

*the typical victim of bullying is "different" in some way;

*the typical victim of bullying is physically weak;

*the typical victim of bullying has overprotective parents.

All the above may sometimes be true but not always. My parents were never protective – I wish they were; I was never weak, yet I was bullied whenever I was a freshman.  

I do agree that in the army I had no peer acceptance but that is because the trusted recipe in the army is for a corporal to turn the peleton on the poor conscript that does not “co-operate” by punishing them for his sins. “Julle maatjie wil mos nie saamwerk nie!”.  My revenge was to make kopperaal punish them more. That destroyed any peer acceptance.

My point is that initiation is a very bad thing and that bullying during initiation is more complex than people think. I do not think you can stereotype victims either.

Bullying definitely is very wide-spread and some teachers even bully children emotionally, but that is a different subject.

I will be happy to see the end of all so-called traditions that encourages initiation. It is never innocent fun for the victim who does not like it.

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