Help your child tackle the scourge in schools

MALALANE – During Child Protection Week, which started on Sunday, many serious issues that children face are highlighted.

Bullying at school is one of these problems, and may have serious repercussions.

Bullying is when one child deliberately hurts another through their words or actions and does so regularly. It is also one-sided, with the same person picking on another.

Many videos of bullying in the classroom have gone viral in the past and have caused children to feel such behaviour is acceptable.

Education expert Dr Gillian Mooney of the Independent Institute of Education, said people need to step in and take a proactive approach to stop bullying in schools.

Although the Department of Education has policies in place, individual schools need to have a plan on how to handle these situations. Teachers are often not sure which procedures to follow to intervene or address the issue, and the bullied children do not realise that they can seek help.

Childline SA advises kids who are bullied to tell their parents, teachers or other trusted adults; ask the bully to stop and avoid being alone with him or her.

Parents should regularly talk to their children, approach the school if they become aware of bullying and ensure that their child gets therapy.

Teachers should set an example by treating all children with respect and not singling out a child. They should also identify bullies and try to find out what the cause behind the behaviour is, in addition to indicating to bullies that their behaviour is unacceptable.

Here are a few of the dangerous misconceptions about bullying

• Adults should stay out of it when children are bullied: This is wrong. Parents need to report bullying to the school, so teachers can monitor bullies to deter such, and principals need to discipline transgressors.

• Boys are bullied more: This statement is also false, as both genders can fall victim. While boys may be bullied in physical ways, girls can experience emotional and cyberbullying.

• Bullying makes children tough: It can actually do a lot of emotional and even physical harm to a child. It can potentially lead to negative behaviour such as cutting oneself and, in some cases, even suicide attempts.

• Witnesses should stay out of the bullying situation: Evidence has suggested that witnesses are also affected by bullying. Bullies tend to be crueller when they have an audience, especially if the witnesses do not seem to disapprove of their behaviour.

For more information on bullying and children’s rights, visit www.childlinesa.org.za.

  AUTHOR
Retha Nel

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