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Bullying in Cape Town

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Bullying in Cape Town

What’s the deal with bullying?

Last Updated: 10 February 2017

Bullying is an act of aggressive and unwanted behaviour that involves emotional and physical harm done to another individual.

Children who are victims of bullying often feel alone and powerless to change their situation. When a child is bullied they can feel cut off, and clinical depression and low self-confidence may develop.

According to a survey taken by over 2000 students in 2014, 58% of South African students have been targeted by bullies. The results are shocking considering that it is 2017 and bullying is still showing its face.It has become an internet sensation with numerous videos of high school bullying making the rounds on social media.

Can we solve the problem of bullying? Yes we can, and it will start with educating our children at home – and we will have to equip ourselves by understanding the concept of bullying and how to deal with it.

Let’s start with…

Understanding the concept of bullying
Bullying is aggressive behaviour used to intimidate and dominate others. This type of behaviour is normally repetitive and consistent, which can become a long term problem. It is common among scholars and children who are exposed to violent incidents at home.

Why do children bully others
Do you know the saying -  charity starts at home? Well, bullying can also start at home. It may not always be physical abuse, instead, it could be emotional abuse. Incidents at home could spark aggressive behaviour – which is the result of not knowing how to deal with emotions. Smaller and ‘weaker’ students may be easy targets for bullies, and it gives them a sense of dominance and power. Sometimes a child will participate in belittling others to prevent the bullies from picking on them; thus shifting the attention.

How to recognise if your child is being bullied
It is important for parents to stay connected to their children. This will help you in noticing negative behavioural changes. Take your child’s feelings seriously and make it easy for them to confide in you. Another response to being bullied is a display of unusually aggressive behaviour. A decline in academic performance, or avoiding school,  are other signs to look out for.

How can you help or be helped

Parents
As a parent it’s important to listen to your child but not to directly question them as it could cause defensiveness. Avoid rushing into problem-solving and instead allow your child to express how they feel and make them feel comfortable with sharing personal things with you. Assure your child that they can turn to you for assistance. The most effective thing you can do is focus on the issue and develop a plan. Discuss this with teachers and other parents – if there’s one child being bullied, there will be others.

Children
Depending on how bad the bullying is, you might decide to try and work it out by yourself first. Try to remember that no matter how hard you try, the bully might not be willing to change his or her behaviour. At this point talking to someone else can be useful. Surround yourself with positive people who know and like you for YOU, it can help boost your confidence.  It’s important that you connect with people who genuinely care for you and recognise all of your great qualities.

Equipping your child to cope
Laying a foundation in a child’s life is vital. Teach them at a young age that they have the right to say ‘no’, and that they do not need to endure treatment that undermines or abuses them. Here are a few things to teach your child:

  • Resolve conflict.
  • Be assertive.
  • Know when to get grown-ups involved.
  • Develop a wide social circle so they are not too reliant on any one group for their social stimulation.
  • Understand the signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression not only for themselves but for friends too.

Stamp out bullying
Change starts with ourselves, and we will benefit from being calm and having a positive approach to situations. This will in turn impact the children and help them to be calmer and not aggressive. Parents and teachers should work together to eliminate bullying from schools. Firstly, there should be a clear indication as to what constitutes bullying. Schools should also have anti-bullying policies that are implemented with serious consequences for those who contravene. Anti-bullying should be part of every school’s code of conduct, however, schools can only do so much; the main lessons are learnt at home, where violence and intimidation are too often observed by children.

Types of bullying

Physical
Apart from hitting and shoving, children can intimidate each other with mere physical presence.

Emotional
The difficulty with nasty words, criticism and insults is that these are more difficult to spot – and children will often not admit to being bullied in this way. The consequences of this is more serious and far-reaching than physical abuse. Constant emotional abuse can lead to the development of a dysfunctional self-image, low self-confidence, anxiety and depression.

Social
Bullying by ostracising and singling out can be the most painful, which is where permeating social networking sites and mobile apps are used to disastrous effect.

Children need to be taught about compassion and love towards others; and more importantly shown these affections. If they have been victimised by bullies, they should be helped as soon as possible.

These hotlines and websites are available for children and parents who are seeking help in situations where a child is victimised.

Childline : +27 (0)800 055 555 or visit childlinesa.org.za

SADAG :  +27 (0)800 567 567 or visit sadag.co.za

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By Garth Prins

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