According to a 2021 study, more than 58% of South African students have encountered some form of bullying, including cyber bullying, which has become increasingly common. It is the responsibility of schools and parents to educate and prevent learners from being victims of, or perpetrators of bullying.
An important part of children's development is their social and emotional development, and bullying can negatively impact a child's well-being on this journey.
Bullying is extremely tough for kids, or anyone, to deal with, according to Childline SA. It makes you feel terrified and humiliated, and it frequently makes a person feel useless. Unfortunately, bullying is one of those things that prevent you from wanting to do anything because you are afraid you might run into the bully. Many kids who experience bullying even begin to doubt their own abilities.
Taking action against bullying in schools requires deep and meaningful conversations between parents, guardians, teachers, and students about their concerns and how they feel, says Nkazimulo Zitha, head of school achievement at SPARK schools.
“SPARK schools do not tolerate bullying in any form, and all staff members are committed to promoting a safe and caring environment for all scholars” said Zitha.
Tips to help reduce bullying in schools:
1. Have a clear definition and shared understanding of what bullying is with learners, parents, and families - Every school needs to have the same language within all its networks in order to reduce bullying.
To start, schools need to have a common definition of bullying.
Bullying is any repetitive, aggressive behaviour or harassment that purposefully causes bodily or emotional harm to another person or group of people and is usually motivated by an imbalance of power. Bullying can either be physical or emotional.
To help the victim heal, it is essential to speak with him or her about what happened and if there have been any previous incidents.
2. Children are visual beings.
When used as a conversation starter and as a way for educators to help kids comprehend the harmful effects of bullying, storytelling and the arts may be great tools for assisting young people to see issues from various angles.
3. It is imperative that children are taught to appreciate the uniqueness in each of us. Bullying is less likely to occur when students are allowed to approach ideas and problems from multiple perspectives.
4. Provide children with tools to help them navigate social problems they may encounter at school and outside of the classroom, by teaching them social and emotional skills. This promotes independence, confidence, and taking accountability for one's actions. Parents are provided with these tools should they want to use them in their homes.
It is easy for children to learn these techniques because the language is simple and they are easy to adopt.