Tackling the scourge of bullying

2019-05-14 06:00
Former public protector, Thuli Madonsela, was one of the speakers at the event.

Former public protector, Thuli Madonsela, was one of the speakers at the event. (Thabang Kuaho)

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The annual 1000 Women 1 Voice luncheon was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre last Thursday.

This movement stands against violence against women and children and this year, the conversation was centered on bullying and the impact it has on victims.

Businessman and performer Brendan van Rhyn, popularly known as his female alter ego Cathy Specific, spoke about the challenges he encountered as a child in school.

“I was constantly mocked for being gay, and those weren’t good feelings I had,” he said. He soon realised that everyone in the world was different and that only the brave show the world their true selves.

“If you told me 11 years ago that I would spend my life as a woman, I would have told you that you were crazy but because I have found the courage to be my true self and live my best life, I am entirely happy,” he explained.

Van Rhyn said what gave him the courage to keep on living his truth was the support he received from his family.

“Because my parents fully supported me, I was the happiest boy in the world. I never minded the bullies,” he said.

Although bullying can be described as the intimidation of weak people by stronger people, former public protector Thuli Madonsela said that strong people do not bully anyone and that only weak people are the ones who become bullies.

“These bullies abuse the little power they have to bully others in order to feel strong,” she said.

“A bully is a wounded person. It may be a child who grew up in a dysfunctional family, or someone who was bullied as a child.”

She said the answer to ending bullying and violence in society does not lie only in increasing the number of police and efficiency of policing, but in coming up with prevention mechanisms.

“If we can ensure that children are not brought up in dysfunctional circumstances and to recognise the trauma of the past, we can also ensure healing.”

Co-founder of the 1000 Women 1 Voice movement, Tina Thiart said the current statistics are shocking.

“Currently, South Africa holds the highest rate of bullying. In the Western Cape alone, 35% of children are said to have been affected by bullying and 41% in the country,” she said.

Safe spaces for women in communities need to be established in order to tackle these issues.

“Furthermore, we need to work with the said perpetrators. 

“We can find out why they are doing what they are doing, maybe they need our support,” she said.

  • For more information visit www.1000women.co.za
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