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In a bid to curb bullying among KZN pupils, the Sharks rugby team has forged a partnership with Childline, and began a campaign this week.
It involves going to schools and conducting presentations on bullying and its effects on society.
On Thursday, Michael Ablett, the marketing manager for the Sharks, said
: “We want to emphasise that everyone is a winner and that bullies are losers… and we want to teach them to be remembered for the right reasons.”
Childline’s provincial crisisline receives a number of calls a day relating to bullying of one sort or another, and many children who call in see themselves as powerless victims who do not have a chance against the bullies.
Bullying can even lead to victims turning to suicide, but this can be averted when children talk to a Childline counsellor and get help.
Linda Naidoo, the Childline KZN director, said bullying was part of ongoing violence in many SA schools.
“It can affect the social environment of a school, create a climate of fear among students which inhibits their ability to learn and leads to other antisocial behaviour,” Naidoo said.
Naidoo said bullying was often overlooked and underestimated, but it could have a lifelong effect on victims, “who may in turn become an abusive adult or live in depression”.
After the presentations, pupils will be encouraged to ask questions.
The aim of the campaign is to spread the message that bullying is bad, to promote tolerance, respect and social interaction, and to encourage people to respect and reach out to victims of bullying.
Naidoo said bullying was common on school playgrounds, in neighbourhoods and in homes, out of sight of adults, or where adults failed to mediate.
The campaign, which mostly targets schools participating in the SharkSmart programme, ends on October 5.