Game outplays bullying

2016-08-02 10:19
The Bully Boogie board game is set to educate the victim and perportrator of bullying. The game has been launched in Mitchell’s Plain and will be focused at schools, religious institutions and families to help break the cycle of bullying.

The Bully Boogie board game is set to educate the victim and perportrator of bullying. The game has been launched in Mitchell’s Plain and will be focused at schools, religious institutions and families to help break the cycle of bullying. (Samantha Lee)

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She sat staring out of the classroom window, her thoughts drifting away as she became more detached from the class, just waiting for the day to end.

It was just another day of enduring the endless humiliation of 40 children pointing and laughing as the group of girls emotionally beat her to a pulp with cruel and vile words.
She, like many others, is suffering in silence, too afraid to express her feelings for fear of being ridiculed.

She is a victim of bullying.

Not recognising the lasting effects of bullying is what creates a vicious cycle, which in turn leads to a life of crime, says registered mediator Basil Coetzee.

“It is a fact that bully victims become bullies themselves. It is an assertion of power, and what will that victim do? They will seek someone weaker than them and become the bully,” says Coetzee.

In recent weeks, bullying at schools has been highlighted with several articles being published in local media.
But these are not isolated incidents and are an endless cycle.

But Coetzee says perceiving bullying to be limited to schools is part of the problem.

“It is not institutionally confined in Cape Town. Bullying is at churches – even in Sunday school – and at work. It is everywhere. Bullying is what creates and maintains the culture of violence and of victim and offender,” says Coetzee.

This is where mediation and appropriate remedial action is required.

“Many bullies don’t even realise that they are bullying. But the culture of bullying is nurtured at home and within society,” says Coetzee.

“Society endorses bullying because you cannot bully in seclusion. It is about humiliation and society finds it humorous and entertaining when someone is bullied.”

He adds that this can start at home as well.

“If children grow up seeing this, with abuse and bullying happening at home, they will do it as it is the norm.”

But an interactive game – the Bully Boogie Challenge game – set to educate families and victims of bullying, has been released.

Ryan Prithraj and his father Vicky created the game in 2012 in Durban where Ryan was born.

“I was in my final year of high school. My sister had been going through bullying in her primary school and it brought back an experience that I went through when I was at primary school and I started to think in what ways I overcame the challenges because in high school bullying was not a factor,” says Ryan.

Ryan began extramural activities to assist him in forgetting about the negatives of being bullied.

“I joined debating when I was in primary school and I had these external factors that would take my mind out of bullying and would equip me with the tools to say: ‘no, you can bully me but I believe in the abilities that I have and it doesn’t matter what you think’,” says Ryan.

But not everyone is as lucky to have a distraction, says Coetzee.

“Many parents don’t know how to address bullying and there is action that can be taken. Bullying at high school is a criminal offence because assault is a criminal offence. But also you must seek counselling for the child. This costs money and isn’t an option for some,” he says.

But the game can assist in filling this void, says Coetzee.

The interactive board game is designed with a simple numeric principal used in games such as snakes and ladders and uses positive and negative reinforcements to address bullying.
The further objective of the game is to educate the victim and to educate the bully in various contexts.

“We started to think about ways to remove the student from the bullying experience and put them in the way that they start to look at the actions and not the person, because a lot of the time we realised that even when you call a bully a bully you are bullying them yourself. You are creating a stigma and labeling them which is also quite problematic,” says Ryan.

“We want to look at the actions that lead to the situation and not the people who are causing the situation.”

Ryan says the game was on the market fairly quickly.

“I came up with the concept and then my dad was the creative mind,” says Ryan.

The game is simple and easy to play.

“It has an enforcement catalogue. If you land on a specific tile for good behaviour, this is the positive consequence. If you land on something that is looked at as bad behaviour, here is the negative consequence. So we looked at consequences so that people look at the actions.”

Ryan and his father Vicky also consulted various therapists and have already received feedback from schools and parents who played the game in Durban.

The game is also endorsed by the provincial minister of education in KwaZulu-Natal.

The letter reads: “Bullying can have devastating consequences; victims of bullying often suffer from health issues, physical injury and severe emotional and psychological problems that can last a lifetime or even result in school dropout, self-harm and suicide,” says Peggy Nkonyeni, KZN MEC in a letter dated 8 August 2014.

“Bully Boogie Challenge game equips schools and teachers with a foundation which can go a long way in creating awareness about bullying. The game further integrates learning in a very dynamic way for groups and partners.”

Coetzee, an endorser of the game, says the game is available for everyone.

“It is for domestic use, religious institutions and schools,” he says.

“The game is also there to build family relations while learning and understanding how to deal with bullying,” he says.

“If bullying is left unattended it fuels the recycling of the principal of bullying,” says Coetzee.

For the game call Basil Coetzee on 073 886 3678.

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