Bullying is an age-old phenomenon that has just become dramatically worse in an age of instant social media
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Lufuno Mavhunga died this week. The 15-year-old took her own life because she had been bullied. But it wasn’t just that. Someone filmed her being beaten up by another girl at school and then posted the video online.
It was a classic case of double jeopardy: embarrassed and humiliated in the moment of the assault and then, almost in perpetuity, in cyberspace.
Typically, there has been plenty of hand-wringing after the event; platitudes, apparent bewilderment and then empty promises.
We don’t need people, even less politicians, education officials and teachers, to tell us bullying is bad. Reports of bullying and viral videos of vicious assaults in classrooms and school grounds have become far too commonplace.
Bullying is an age-old phenomenon that has just become dramatically worse in an age of instant social media and the internet. The only way to stop it is action, not words.
Let the person who assaulted Lufuno be properly punished, but so too must every other pupil who stood around and cheered, be disciplined. The person who filmed the sorry spectacle must be tracked down and sanctioned too. If there were teachers who failed in their fiduciary duty to intervene, they must be fired.
Then, and only then, will the message begin to be driven home that there are consequences for these kinds of actions: for the assault, for being not just a bystander but effectively an instigator and finally for filming something like this and then posting it to the internet.
Together, all of these actors in this tragic drama played a key contributory role in Lufuno overdosing on pills on Monday night. That’s the truth.
Left unchecked, these children are tomorrow’s adults. What kind of world will they inhabit? What chance will their children have when they go to school?
Let’s stop this once and for all.