The Department of Basic Education is embarking on a campaign to raise awareness on the impact of bullying and violence in our schools. The campaign will take place under the theme “School Safety Violence, and Bullying Prevention Initiative” and it is in response to an increase in incidents of bullying and violence in our schools.

Polokwane - The campaign aims to provide teachers and parents with the skills to respond effectively to incidents of bullying. The department will use the campaign to highlight the negative impact of bullying such as leading to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, low academic performance, absenteeism and school dropout. Bullying involves repeatedly picking on someone with the aim of hurting or harming them physically, emotionally or socially. Unlike teasing, bullying usually involves an unbalance of power.  Bullies are found in most schools and communities. Both girls and boys can be bullied or be bullies. 

The following are types or bullying that normally occurs:

  • Physical - Pushing, Hurting or attacking someone and or taking forcibly their possessions
  • Sexual - Inappropriate notes, jokes, pictures, taunts and rumours, unlimited touching and sexual behaviour
  • Verbal - threatening, insulting, ridiculing, name calling and making racist or sexual slurs 
  •  Non-verbal - writing hurtful messages, letters or graffiti or distributing harmful pictures and videos.
  • Social - gossiping, spreading rumours, leaving people out and breaking up friendships

Bullying can cause serious physical, psychological and emotional harm that can last a lifetime. It has impact on learners’ performance at school and in most cases has led to children committing suicide or dropping out of school because of stress of being bullied. Some children who experience bullying go on to bully others. These children tend to show higher levels of problem behaviours, depressive symptoms, less self-control, poor social skills and do worse at school.

Government encourages learners to report all incidents of bullying and abuse. It is therefore important for all schools to take all allegations of bullying, sexual violence and harassment seriously and investigate them. Incidents or suspected incidents of bullying and harassment can be reported to principals, educators or any other person victims feel comfortable talking to. Schools are expected to treat incidents or suspected incidents of bullying, violence and harassment with care, sensitivity and confidentiality. They also have a duty to protect the privacy of the individuals involved, and must ensure victims do not endure secondary trauma when reporting cases. Victims of bullying, abuse and harassment should be referred to district psychosocial services for counselling and support. Parents or victims who feel that a school has not handled an incident or suspected incidents of bullying and harassment fairly should approach a district or circuit manager.

The role of parents in the education of their children is vital. Wherever possible parents should try to be actively involved in activities at school, including school governance structures. 

Parents are encouraged to have regular discussions with their children about their school and bullying. If you notice changes in your child’s behaviour or attitude, talk to them and try to find out what is the matter. It is also important for parents to cultivate a healthy, open and cooperative relationship with their children’s teachers, and approach the school, the principal or teachers if they get worried about a child.