Schools nip ‘Charlie’ in the bud

2015-09-08 06:00
The “Charlie Charlie” pencil game played by schoolchildren has evolved from an innocent game played by Spanish-speaking girls.

Carina roux

The “Charlie Charlie” pencil game played by schoolchildren has evolved from an innocent game played by Spanish-speaking girls. PHOTO: Carina roux

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Schools across the city have been mobilised to nip the not-so-latest occult craze in the bud while it is mushrooming across the country.

The “Charlie Charlie” game has had many parents wondering what can be done to prevent their children from being exposed to its nature, while others have continued to view it as harmless fun conjured up by the vibrant minds of the youth.

A host of local schools have reported instances where children have been found to be playing the game, with some teachers going on to say that they have brought an end to the activity before losing control of the situation.

“We have nipped it in the bud,” says an unnamed source at one of the schools.

“We have had children come to us to say that their fellow pupils have stopped playing the game after telling them about it before we addressed them about the issue.”

Despite the dangers, or even non-dangers, which may exist, the fact that children have taken to the game indicates that alternative activities need to be found to cultivate a more harmonious environment for children to interact in.

The game was originally played by Spanish-speaking girls as a way to “enquire” which boy may like them, but the game has re-incarnated itself this year in the form of the “Charlie Charlie challenge”. This occurred when English-speaking youth adapted the paper and pencil game after a video of the game was posted on Twitter. The video, originally intended to be humorous, has since evolved into a more taboo activity with participants of the game asking a “demon” named Charlie to answer their questions instead.

The Western Cape education department has warned that the public should be careful when dealing with incidents of the Charlie Charlie type.

“Children should be encouraged to discuss any ‘uncomfortable’ feelings about the incident with their teachers, who could then initiate procedures for the proper therapeutic response processes. Actual instances of bullying or coercion could certainly have negative effects on the child, but early identification and effective intervention can ameliorate the initial effects as well as the long-term consequences.”

The department also states that provisions have been made in the curriculum to teach children to make more informed decisions and equip them with knowledge of their rights.

“Regular playground supervision by teachers would also go a long way to curtailing such activities and it is also important for parents to communicate continually with their children and to discuss all the growth and developmental issues as well as any situations arising from specific incidents at schools.”

Manenberg police spokesperson Lieutenant Ian Bennett maintains that although schools in the area have reported instances of the game being played, it points to a bigger problem within communities.

“People forget how powerful young people are. This is a case where there is nothing (spiritual) happening in schools. Therefore, there is no form of moral understanding in place and young people go in search of something new and exciting because they become bored with the day-to-day things in life,” says Bennett.

He says the mainstream media are partly to blame for the notoriety of the game, which has only stirred excitement among children to start experimenting with it.

“Children are curious beings; they want to find things out when they are at school and are experimenting with them all the time.

“We as adults need to channel children’s energy. That energy needs to be conducted and channelled into something good. They have a rightful place in our society and we need to ensure that they have a special place in our community.”

Warren Rossiter, principal of Hazendal Primary School, is aware that regardless of the activity the children get involved in, the school is constantly creating awareness among pupils regarding the consequences of following mass hysteria. He urges parents to encourage their children to participate in positive activities and to involve themselves more in their children’s lives.

“Many of the things that the children bring to school, they learn in the streets, in their neighbourhoods. It spreads through the schools and then it goes back again into their respective neighbourhoods. We are reaching out to parents, because we don’t have a sufficient involvement of parents.

“It is only when crisis times happen that the parents are very concerned, but we need ongoing support and understanding from parents to make more time for their children. I know parents are tired when they come from work. Often it is single parent families or both parents are working, but they have to make time for their children because they need that quality time.

“We are trying to encourage that among families. We have a very close and immediate contact with the child, but we don’t always have that close communication with the parent.”

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