Standing up to bullying

2017-10-24 06:00

Members of the Frontier youth organisation of Factreton have taken it upon themselves to raise awareness of bullying at school.

They are inviting businesses and organisations to come and set up information stalls at their anti-bullying day for learners and community members at Windermere High School on Saturday 4 November from 10:00 to 15:00.

According to the organisers, the event is aimed at highlighting the issues of bullying. Different speakers will inform learners, teachers and parents of bullying and its impact. There will also be games and activities to display the legal aspects of bullying.

This follows a reported incident in Factreton in September which left a 14-year-old girl devastated after she was allegedly bullied by classmates at Sutherland Primary School (“Beware games girls play”, People’s Post, 18 September).

It is expected that 15 primary schools and four high schools in Kensington, Factreton and Maitland will be part of the day.

Cheslyn Steenberg, spokesperson of the organisation, says: “Frontiers feels that it is vital to raise awareness of bullying in schools because it is affecting our children and the actual learning outcome of children. We found that learners refuse to attend school because of being bullied, which ultimately affects the child’s attendance and his learning outcome, having to probably repeat the year.

“But it is also extremely important to highlight the legal aspects to the parents, learners, school and teachers – basically that we all have a legal duty to report and act on bullying, even though bullying is not a crime in South Africa. And that alternative is being offered: For the person perpetuating the bullying and the person being bullied. We need to be aware that two processes is being run concurrently, we need to address the bully and the bullied, and that will be a journey walked until the needs are met.”

Steenberg says they believe it is their responsibility as youth to take the lead in dealing with “this evil”. He says though they are not aware of any recent incident in Kensington, Factreton and Maitland, they want to be proactive in their approach because they know anyone is prone to bullying.

“Bullying does not have a criteria relating to your social status. Even teachers are bullied, let alone the parents. The message that Frontiers would like to send out on the day is: ‘Be a buddy, not a bully.’

Cheryl Morily, deputy director of Childline Western Cape, says they will support the idea because initiatives such as anti-bullying programmes and workshops can make a difference in the lives of children, parents, caregivers and teachers as it raises awareness, changes perceptions of bullying, encourages participation and allows people to look at both the victim and bully by teaching them how to respond to incidents.

She says their research shows that bullying is a major problem in schools.

“There are many kinds of bullying and some, such as cyber bullying, doesn’t only happen at schools but can extend to all hours of the day and night. Statistics for such bullying would be difficult to measure but we know it exists. Schools need to seriously consider addressing this issue in a positive way and to implement procedures that will make disclosure possible. Parents also need assistance, to know that the school will work with them in addressing the matter. It is really a community issue.”

Some of the signs to look out for are changes of in a child’s behaviour, including being sad, moody or depressed, unexplained bruises, cuts or marks and a change in appetite. She says bullied children sometimes lose interest in going to school or doing schoolwork or things he used to like.

She encourages communication between parents and their children to make it easy for the children to confide in them. Miles October of Play Sport 4 Life says they will participate in the anti-bullying day as they support initiatives to make a positive difference in the lives of local children.

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