Children stand against bullying

2018-09-25 06:00
Children during a recent demonstration at the church gates.

Children during a recent demonstration at the church gates.

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A local church has taken a stand against the scourge of bullying through an education drive and demonstration targeted at their Sunday School children.

The Calvynist Protestant Church celebrates Children’s Month annually, says Clint Petersen, the Sunday School superintendent­.

“We celebrate Children’s Month within our church throughout September and decided [to focus] on bullying [this year]. Our mandate as Sunday School teachers is to teach our children the word of God and also to become positive role models among their friends and within our community,” says Petersen. “We are always in constant dialogue with our children about school life and the feedback we receive from our children is that many forms of bullying are still very much rife within our primary and secondary schools in the Mitchell’s Plain area and it is affecting our children’s self-esteem and confidence.”

He adds that the bullying scourge is not something new and has become “somewhat of a norm”.

“We cannot allow our children to be subjected to physical and emotional scarring by the hands of someone else who thinks it’s cool to make fun and laugh at someone’s physical features or personal interests. We instil in our children that God made us all unique and in His image and encourage them to be different and think differently and because this does not maybe go with what others deem as ‘cool’ they are made to feel inferior. The scourge of bullying is crippling our society and schools as it has tremendous knock-on effects and thus we have decided it’s time for change and we as teachers will stand with our children and take up our fight against bullying,” says Petersen.

“We have taken a stand and used the opportunity to empower our children at our church as we believe bullying only thrives when victims remain silent. We also preach the message that the God we serve is a loving God and any form of abuse or bullying from anyone that makes them feel unsafe has to be addressed and reported.”

The month covered physical, emotional and cyberbullying awareness – which is on the increase among teenagers.

“The response from our children has been phenomenal as they could relate to different types of bullying and the more examples we gave of bullying the more they could give us real life scenarios of what they have seen and experienced at school. The message we gave through to our children was to speak to a parent, teacher, counsellor or principal if they were a victim of bullying or even if they saw it happening to someone else. On the part of cyberbullying we advised them to block the person bullying them and to also report the incident to a teacher, parent and the police and also to take screenshots of the messages received.”

The church’s anti-bullying campaign has been observed throughout the month of September­.

The teachers used video clips, posters and a demonstration outside the church building to drive the message home, not only with the children but the community at large.

The campaign concluded with a puppet show on Sunday.

“The campaign has been a resounding success and we will surely have follow-up initiatives over the coming weeks and months to ensure we can further equip our children within our church that they may go out into the community and bring about positive change,” says Petersen.

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