Bullying at school is a concern

2018-01-31 06:01
PHOTO: SOURCEDBullying is a growing concern in schools.

PHOTO: SOURCEDBullying is a growing concern in schools.

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THE school academic year kicked off last week and many parents were stressing about the back-to-school preparations.

Another concern for some parents is bullying at school.

The Echo spoke to counselling psychologist, Thokozani Sithole of Pietermaritzburg, about bullying at schools.

He said bullying can be defined as a deliberate and repeated act causing harm to those who are vulnerable.

“Bullying among pupils is most common and those who experience such are adversely affected. The effects of bullying can range from psychological distress, poor academic performance as well as behavioural problems,” Sithole said.

The psychologist said research suggests that bullies are not born bullies­, they become bullies as they grow.

“Often children who are known to be bullies lack pro-social behavioural skills, they tend not to understand other­ people’s feelings and often do not see their behaviour as odious.”

Sithole said bullies tend to be impulsive, easily angered and are usually defiant and aggressive towards adults and their teachers.

“Children who are bullies may present a history of dysfunctional relationships with their parents as well as their peers. Proper parenting styles play a vital role in addressing or combating such conduct behaviour,” he said.

According to Sithole, some parenting styles, which are toxic and may trigger tendencies of bullying among pupils, may include, but are not limited to:

• lack of secure parent child attachment

• alcoholism;

• verbal abuse;

• physical abuse;

• sexual abuse; and

• poor family systems.

“It is most common that pupils who become targets of being bullied lack assertiveness.

“Therefore, when a pupil is a victim of bullying they may present with a number of symptoms such as a tendency to be withdrawn from their peers, a tendency to be shy, they tend to have little or no friends.

“They might be unhappy about school or about thoughts of going to school.

“They might have negative reactions about school compared to their peers, and may have already developed a low self-esteem or developed low self-esteem as a result of being bullied.

“Most commonly, the effect of bullying would directly affect their academic performance as a result of experienced psychological distress,” he said.

He said parents and teachers should take note of these signs and other concerning symptoms which may be indicators of any potential distress resulting from any form of experienced bullying.

“If parents, teachers or any member of the community suspects any form of conduct behaviour among their children, it is important they take the necessary steps to address this kind of behaviour.

“Teachers should be able to identify and refer pupils who may be victims of being bullied and those who are bullies to a school counsellor or a psychologist.

“It is also important to take an active role in reporting any form of bullying you see so that steps can be taken to help both the victim and the perpetrator.

“Turning a blind eye may cause more harm,” he said.

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