Bullying at School

From abusive behaviour on the school playground to disrespecting classmates on social media, bullying is a widespread problem that can affect your child’s mental and emotional health.

There are different types of bullying including verbal bullying, physical bullying, social or relationship and cyber bullying.  Both the bully and the child being bullied need help.

There are many effects of bullying that you can look out for. These include:

  • faking illnesses to avoid having to attend school,
  • a low self-esteem,
  • social isolation,
  • unexplained bruises and injuries,
  • becomes upset after using the internet or cellphone, and
  • becomes very secretive about online activities.

There are 4 main types of bullying that you should look out for:

  • Verbal and written (name calling, negative comments, intimidation, and threatening or humiliating SMSes),
  • Physical (bumping, scratching, shouldering, hitting, tripping, biting, rolling eyes or showing suggestive signs),
  • Social or relationships (gossiping (verbal or written), revealing personal information, manipulation of the child with a view to humiliation or exclusion from a group), and
  • Cyber bullying (intimidating or harassing a child using a digital platform such as social networks).

If your child has a cellphone, they may be at risk of being cyber bullied. Bullying may occur through social networks, SMSes or emails.

You can support your child by using the guidelines provided by South African Police Service (SAPS) listed below:

  • Don’t respond. If someone bullies you, remember that your reaction is usually exactly what the bully wants.
  • Don’t retaliate. Responding with similar threats reinforces the bully’s behaviour
  • Save the evidence. Online messages can usually be saved and shown to someone who can help. Save evidence in case the bullying gets worse.
  • Block the bully. Use your social media preference settings or contact the administrator to block an online bully.
  • Reach out for help. You need to ask for help. A trusted adult can provide support.
Once bullying has been identified, it’s important to address the situation as soon as possible with the school, where appropriate measures and actions can be discussed and implemented.Parents are key to identifying behavioural changes in their children and should report to the school immediately.
The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has provided guidelines to schools on how to deal with bullying. Schools need to deal with the issue in line with codes of conduct, and intervene appropriately to support the victim and to change the behaviour of the culprit.
You don’t need to deal with bullying on your own. Reach out to your loved ones or use the WCED’s Safe Schools hotline to report abuse on 0800 45 46 47.