Singer Gabrielle shares signs of bullying as Mzansi marks Child Protection Week
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Bullying among young people is at an alarming rate in South Africa.
In recent times, countless videos of children falling victim to bullying, harassment and abuse have emerged on social media, with a recent case of a Limpopo teenager resorting to suicide after she suffered public humiliation at the hands of a fellow pupil.
In a video that went viral, Lufuno Muvhunga was seen being repeatedly slapped by a pupil while other learners can be heard cheering her on.
The Lufuno later committed suicide.
This is just one of the many incidents of bullying in South Africa.
What are we doing in our communities to help stop violence among our youth?
Well, as the country marks the annual Child Protection Week, actress and singer Gabrielle de Gama speaks out against the monster that is bullying.
In a recent interview with IOL, Gabrielle, who starred as Annie in the musical “Annie Junior”, revealed that she was bullied from a very young age.
“My bullying started from Grade 4 when I moved to a new school. It then resurfaced again when I started high school.
“It started as a result of my Instagram posts, mostly because the new high school children didn’t understand my journey in music and my upcoming trip to the International Modelling and Talent convention (IMTA) in America in July this year.
“I had also never met them because of lockdown level 5, so the entire scenario was online,” said the youngster.
She adds: “I was bullied because of my differences. For example, the first time I got bullied was because my hair was thicker than everyone else.”
The 14-year-old recently released a single titled Nasty, where she highlights the impact of bullying.
“In my song, the message I would like to get across is that being nasty is toxic and should be a tragic act.
“We should all stick together instead of isolating one another. We need to help each other get through this poignant time in history,” explains the star.
“I realised the bully is taking out their insecurities on me,” she says. “Normally the bully picks on you because they have certain expectations of who you are supposed to be.
“In my case, if you stand out or you draw the attention of others, that upsets them. When I understood that their words were more a reflection of their insecurities and where they are in their life, it made me more confident to be myself.
“As with Lufuno’s case, bystanders are a huge problem. These are children who witness the act and often cheer the bully on. This gives the bully more power. Some experts suggest that changing the attitudes and involvement of bystanders could have the biggest impact on bullies.
The younger also shared some of the signs of bullying that parents can look out for:
- Unexplainable injuries
- Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking sickness
- Changes in eating habits
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork and not wanting to go to school
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem
- Self-destructive behaviours such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide.
The youngster also encouraged young people to speak up when they feel they are being bullied.
“Speak to someone you trust. It is the best way to get through bullying. Make sure the bully gets reported to a teacher or the principal because once they are reported they will be more hesitant to carry on bullying,” she said.
Below are some of the contact numbers children can call to get help:
Childline South Africa: 08000 55 555 (toll-free number)
Call 0800 428 428 (toll-free) to speak to a social worker for assistance and counselling.
You can also request a social worker from the Command Centre to contact you by dialling *120*7867# (free) from any cellphone.