‘Bullying on the rise’

2015-09-08 06:00

IT is only a few weeks into the third school term however, SAPS and Childline KZN have reported that cases of school violence and bullying are on the rise.

Cases range from petty name-calling, to fights and even pupils being caught with firearms and knives at school.

A parent, who did not want to be named, said that his seven-year-old son refuses to go to school as older boys threaten to “boot him” if he does not give them some of his spending money.

“My child is not one who would fight back. I was scared and reported the matter to the principal. The threats have since stopped however, I feel more needs to be done to prevent this from happening to other children.”

Parents also claim that in senior schools there have been physical altercations between pupils over boyfriends and/or girlfriends, and it is a great cause for concern.

Such incidents are ringing alarm bells for schools, parents in the Upper Highway area as well as local child rights organisations, and ward councilors are demanding that action be taken before a fatality occurs.

Ward 10 councillor Rick Crouch said that school bullying is prevalent not only in the Upper Highway area, but worldwide.

He said it not only happens at school, it extends to social media where the most damage to the child is done because it is a much wider audience.

“Most of the teenage suicides for bullying are as a result of cyber bullying, and the fact that the child feels that they cannot speak about it to anyone,” he said.

“Parents should be asking their children about what is going on at school, they must monitor what their children are doing on social media. There is software that can be installed on the child’s phone, Tablet, laptop, etc., which allows the parent to monitor, that way, as a parent, you get in front of the issue before it is too late.”

He said it is very important to have the type of communication with a child where they are not intimidated or ashamed to tell the parent anything.

Childline’s Homashni Peters said that tell-tail signs of a bullied children may include, “children may not want to go to school. They may dress with inappropriate clothing when it is rather hot, etc., to hide bruises or marks. Their school performance may deteriorate or there is a loss of interest in school. A child who has a bubbly personality may now isolate him or herself and become socially withdrawn. The child may experience a loss or damage of personal belongings, for example the bully may take pocket money, cellphones, I-pads, etc., from a child,” she said.

“Bullying affects a child emotionally, psychologically and impacts negatively on their general activities therefore it is imperative that supportive counselling services are accessed.

“Matters of bullying should be reported to the school principal and parents should not try to resolve the problem on their own.”

She said individuals can contact Childline, Crisisline on 08000 555 55 to discuss matters of this nature.

“Trained counsellors, who work on a 24-hour basis, will render the necessary counselling and supportive services to children and their parents.

Parents can also contact the Department of Social Development or the Child Welfare Society in the area in which they reside for counselling services.”

‘I feel more needs to be done to prevent this from happening to other children’

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