Taking a stand against bullying

2016-10-12 06:00
DR GILLIAN   MOONEY

DR GILLIAN MOONEY

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A GALESHEWE woman took a stand against bullying by going to the school and confronting the situation head-on.

When Layla Greys’s daughter, Puseletso, called her from school because she was scared of going to her class, Greys (39) decided enough was enough and went to the school.

She then realised that she had made a mistake. She believed that parents must stay out of children’s fights and that children must toughen up.

Greys said her daughter was afraid of going to school in fear of her bully, a girl, at school.

They talked about the matter over the weekend, but her daughter asked her not to intervene.

Although it was a concern to her that, according to her daughter, the bullying incident had resulted in the formation of small groups who wanted to fight each other on the school premises.

On the morning before the single mother went to the school, it seemed her daughter had been victimised to the extent that she was afraid to go into the classroom.

Luckily she could call her mother from her cell phone.

On arrival at the school, the principal was more concerned about the fact that the girl had a cell phone with her.

Greys was astonished to find that they had up to then treated the matter of bullying very lightly.

The matter was resolved and Puseletso is continuing with her school work.

Bullying is steadily growing in societies and has the potential to disempower citizens if given the chance.

This was highlighted by Dr Gillian Mooney, teaching and learning manager at the Independent Institute of Education, who revealed that experts continue to warn that the number and severity of bullying incidents in South African schools calls for urgent and sustained intervention.

She mentioned that such cases make it into the media, but that they represent only a fraction of the mistreatment many children have to go through.

She elaborated on how the devastating consequences of bullying left a lasting mark on the lives of countless youngsters like Puseletso and on how the problem had the tendency of showing continuous growth unless an effective strategy is developed and consistently enforced.

National and provincial education departments have policies and procedures in place, to varying degrees, on how schools should respond to bullying behaviour.

Mooney acknowledged that the challenge was enormous, as the crisis of bullying related to more than just schools.

“Bullying has a ripple effect, where it is the bully, the victim and the bystander who are affected.

“Other problematic home circumstances, like domestic abuse, divorce or the death of a parent, could also provide the context in which the bully seeks to gain power through negative behaviour.”

She encouraged high-profile and easily accessible structures and processes to be put in place to deal with bullying.

“As teachers often feel their hands are tied and victims of bullying feel that they have no voice, bullies themselves should receive adequate support and counselling.”

In Puseletso’s case, teachers at her school somehow felt that their hands were tied as the principal had the authority to deal with it.

“Where known bullies continue to wreak havoc upon the lives and futures of others and knowing that the system is slow and ineffectual in responding to anti-social behaviour, we are doing the victim and our society as a whole a great injustice.”

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