CHILDLINE KZN is calling for stricter penalties against the perpetrators of bullying.
This follows a spate of bullying videos that have emerged on social media in recent months.
According to the children’s organisation, the severity and frequency of bullying incidents requires more stringent intervention from authorities.
Childline KZN’s operations manager, Adeshini Naicker, references a new law implemented in Missouri (U.S), which delivers swift legal punishment for third-degree assault and some forms of harassment that inflict “emotional distress” on the victim.
Under the new law, schools are required to report incidents of harassment to the police, which means that children could be charged for fighting and bullying and, if convicted, could face jail time.
Naicker says bullying is an inescapable threat for many youngsters and the victims of such harassment are often left with little recourse.
Although the trend of sharing videos of attacks on social media platforms has cast bullying into the spotlight, and even provides tangible evidence to bring charges against the perpetrators, there are numerous undocumented and unreported incidents, she explains.
The findings of a recent global study conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) indicated the extent of bullying, revealing that more than half of the
100 000 respondents had been victims of bullying. The study further indicated that one third of participants believed that bullying is normal and chose not to tell anyone.
Naicker said in South Africa the lack of information and misconceptions about bullying paired with schools’ inability to monitor incidents contributed to victims’ failure to report bullying.
“Often victims are not aware of the platforms available to them to seek help and resort to internalising the problem in the hope that the bullying will stop.
“Bullying takes many forms including physical, emotional and verbal attacks or cyber bullying and in many instances victims believe that unless the incidents are violent, it is not bullying,” adds Naicker.
According to Naicker, bullying is any mean or hurtful behaviour that occurs repeatedly, which can ranges from ongoing name-calling or making disrespectful comments about someone's attributes to making threats or deliberately excluding a peer from a group or activities.
Childline KZN offers counselling for victims of bullying and their families as well as therapeutic services to provide victims with the support and guidance to cope with their trauma.
For more information, visit www.childlinekzn.org.za or contact Childline KZN crisis line on 080 005 5555. - Supplied