November 14, 2022 – November 18, 2022
What is Anti-Bullying Week?
Anti-Bullying Week is an annual event aimed at raising awareness of bullying and the negative effects that it can have on children that have fallen victim to it. Each year there is a theme – for 2022, the theme is ‘United Against Bullying’. Schools all over the world take part – and here in South Africa, it’s no different. The week aims get the message out there that bullying in any form is not inevitable and that it shouldn’t be acceptable.
Why is Anti-bullying week important in South Africa?
Recent studies have shown that South Africa has the second-highest rate of cyber-bullying in the world, so it’s vitally important that children in South Africa are taught about what bullying is, how to spot it and how they can stop it. Cyber bullying can be defined as – when a child or group of children, under the age of 18, intentionally intimidate, offend, threaten or embarrass another child or group of children, specifically using information technology.
Statistics around the world also show that male bullies at school are twice as likely to turn to bullying their girlfriends and spouses in later years. Above and beyond that, the statistics also show that child bullies usually have experienced violence in the home between adults.
It’s been reported that over half of South African learners might have experienced bullying during their time at school. That’s why it’s important that children as well as young people of all ages along with parents and other family members/teachers are encouraged to get involved in the event and take part in activities that will help to shine a light on the problem of bullying and ways to help resolve the issue.
What is classed as bullying?
Bullying can take many forms – but basically, bullying is any behaviour that seeks to deliberately harm intimidate or coerce another. There are 4 main types of bullying, all of which unfortunately have been known to take place in a school setting:
- Verbal bullying – This is when name-calling, threats and taunting take place.
- Social bullying – This can involve excluding someone intentionally. Others might be encouraged to socially exclude someone by the bully. Spreading rumours and public shaming are also examples of social bullying.
- Physical bullying – This is when someone is physically harmed because of intentional actions – these might be hitting, kicking, punching, spitting or tripping. Their belongings may also be targeted.
- Cyberbullying – This is when the bullying takes place over a computer or any electronic device. It can involve spreading hurtful stories, rumours and images on the internet, through texting and on social media. Unfortunately it’s a growing problem in schools which can leave the victims feeling powerless.
How can bullying in schools be prevented?
Learners who are perceived as different by other are more likely to be bullied. These more vulnerable learners include LGBT youth, learners with physical, learning, or mental health disabilities, and learners who are targeted for differences in race, ethnicity, or religion.
Both learners who bully and learners who are bullied can suffer lasting psychological effects, including post-traumatic stress and it can be very harmful to the victim’s self-confidence and well-being. It is vital that schools provide support to all the learners involved in a bullying incident and that schools take steps to reduce bullying.
The best way to be able to deal with bullying effectively is to create a school culture of acceptance and communication. Such a culture empowers learners to find positive ways to resolve conflicts and has an administration, teachers, and other staff who can support learners in making constructive decisions and respond proactively when aggression of any kind exists on the school campus.
These steps can help you get started:
• Establish an anti-bullying policy — Know your state and district policies and seek input from all members of your school community to determine how your school will implement rules of conduct, a way for learners to report bullying, and the process by which the school will act to address reported bullying. Communicate the anti-bullying policy with all stakeholders (Teachers, Learners and parents)
• Put into action a school-wide plan — Disseminate a bullying prevention plan that involves all adults on campus in knowing how to support positive behaviour, address unacceptable actions, and refer learners who need additional counselling. Participate in Anti-bullying Campaigns and organise workshops for teachers and parents. Arrange sessions where children can speak out and report.
• Educate the school community — Incorporate bullying prevention in lesson plans, teach learners how to effectively respond to bullying, and provide resources for parents so they can be partners in your anti-bullying efforts. Encourage the community to participate in awareness campaigns.
The JOG Trust and their initiative Cool2BeKind hopes to create several tools for teachers to use to communicate Bullying to learners at a young age. The Cool2BeKind workshops teach children in all communities, the value of kindness and empathy as alternatives to bullying and abuse.
Cool2BeKind dispels the myth that bullying is part of everyday childhood development, by providing training and resources to educators and learners in schools.
Through a series of specially designed training workshops, educators are given tools on how to combat bullying in schools, how to share and sustain this information with learners in their classes and are shown alternatives to aggression and violence – often the only examples set by the communities they live in.
Learners are taught to take pride in empathy and gentleness, how to ensure safe spaces by role-modelling a bully free environment and to demonstrate leadership by being an “Upstander”.
The training topics, which are conducted ‘online’ or with the educators include the following:-
- Bullying behaviour
- Upstander instead of Bystander
- Manage anxiety in Children
- Racism, Prejudice and Discrimination
- Gender-based Violence
Understanding that kindness is strength, rather than a weakness engenders respect for oneself and others. Not only does this discourage bullying behaviour, but it empowers children in situations of victimisation.
Do your part and support this initiative or share kindness in anti-bullying week!