Raising awareness on bullying at schools and in the workplace

2020-02-05 06:00
photo: sourced The community must stand against bullying at schools.

photo: sourced The community must stand against bullying at schools.

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MALE bullies at schools are twice as likely to turn to bullying their girlfriends and spouses in later years. This is according to a report released by 1 000 Women Trust.

According to the report, South Africa is rated second highest in the world for cyberbullying. The report also revealed that child bullies usually have experienced violence in their homes, most often between their parents.

In speaking about bullying, 1 000 Women Trust director Caroline Peters said: “It can take many forms, including: verbal — includes name-calling, threats of harm, and taunting; and social bullying, which an involve excluding someone intentionally, encouraging others to socially exclude someone, spreading rumours, or publicly shaming someone.”

Peters added that another form of bullying is physical bullying, which often results in physically harming someone or their belongings.

“[Another form of bullying] is cyberbullying. This involves using electronic media such as on the Internet, texting, and social media to spread hurtful and damaging stories, rumours and images. Although cyberbullying can take place anywhere and anytime, this form of bullying often can travel rapidly through a school population and beyond, devastating the victims and leaving them feeling powerless,” Peters said.

The director noted that pupils who are perceived as different by others are more likely to be bullied. “These more vulnerable [pupils] include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth; pupils with physical, learning, or mental health disabilities; and pupils who are targeted for differences in race, ethnicity, or religion,” said Peters.

“Both pupils who bully and pupils who are bullied can suffer lasting psychological effects, including post-traumatic stress.

“It is vital that schools provide support to all the pupils involved in a bullying incident and that schools take steps to reduce bullying,” she said.

1 000 Women Trust believes that bullying can be prevented, with Peters saying: “In a trauma-informed school, the best deterrent to bullying and cyberbullying is to create a culture of acceptance and communication.

“Such a culture empowers pupils to find positive ways to resolve conflicts and has an administration, teachers and other staff who can support pupils in making constructive decisions and respond proactively when aggression of any kind exists on the school campus.”

Establishing an anti-bullying policy at school is one of the most effective ways of eradicating mischievous acts among pupils.

“Know your state and district policies and seek input from all members of your school community to determine how your school will implement rules of conduct, a way for pupils to report bullying, and the process by which the school will act to address reported bullying. Communicate the anti-bullying policy with all stakeholders (teachers, pupils and parents) and put into action a school-wide plan.

“Disseminate a bullying prevention plan that involves all adults at school [so they know] how to support positive behaviour, address unacceptable actions, and [can] refer pupils who need additional counselling.

“Participate in anti-bullying campaigns and organise workshops for teachers and parents. Arrange sessions where children can speak out and report,” Peters said.

Additionally, educating the school community is important — incorporate bullying prevention in lesson plans, teach pupils how to effectively respond to bullying, and provide resources for parents so they can be partners in your anti-bullying efforts. Finally, encourage the community to participate in awareness campaigns.

Peters added that bullying can also take place at the workplace among co-workers.


• Verbal aggression, insults, derogatory name-calling

• Sabotaging work

• Spreading gossip or rumours

• Physical or verbal threats (including violence)

• Making “aggressive or threatening gestures”

• Vandalising belongings

• Engaging in harmful or offensive initiative practices

• Personal attacks based on private life or personal traits

Conversely, the following is not considered bullying:

• Expressing opinions

• Constructive criticism or legitimate complaints

• A supervisor “exercising managerial authority,” such as through assigning tasks, work evaluations, layoffs, and other decisions.

Petters added: “Victims of workplace bullies and bystanders should refer to their company’s human resources policy on workplace harassment, and follow the guidelines set up by their office for addressing the complaint—if there are any in place. In certain cases, such as if a bully continually demeans a co-worker in front of others, the victim can address the bully one-on-one first. If the bully blames the victim and/or is unwilling to change his or her behaviour, the victim has the responsibility of reporting the incident.”


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