1000 Women Trust assist schools, parents with anti-bullying skills after Limpopo-tragedy

CAPE TOWN. – The NGO 1000 Women Trust has embarked on a campaign to provide teachers and parents with the skills to address bullying in South Africa and has also sent councilors to Limpopo to assist schools with anti-bullying campaigns, said Tina Thiart, founding member of 1000 Women Trust.

Bullying in South African schools is in the national spotlight. A grade 10 Limpopo schoolgirl from Mbilwi Secondary School in the Vhembe East Education district in Limpopo allegedly committed suicide after a video of her being assaulted by fellow pupils went viral.

The pupil from Mbilwi Secondary School is seen being confronted by two other girls. One of the signals the other to move while she gets closer to her to slap her countless times. The victim grabs the pupil who is assaulting her in an attempt to block the blows.

Other pupils can be heard in the background cheering the alleged perpetrator, who is also in grade 10.

Twitter users started a Twitter campaign on Tuesday in the name of the pupil.

Limpopo education spokesperson Tidimalo Chuene expressed her concern about an apparent increase in bullying incidents around the Limpopo province.

“The department has also noted another recording of a physical altercation incident involving grade 12 female pupils from Nthuba High School making the rounds on social media. Details of this incident have been requested from the school principal and due disciplinary processes will be undertaken immediately,” Chuene said.

1000 Women Trust has launched an awareness and training campaign against bullying, said Thiart.

“We have compiled a toolkit which will provide the resources for teachers and parents to address bullying in all forms. It can be accessed on www.bullying.co.za.

“There are also a range of values that parents can share with their school-going children in order to train them to be non-violent and respectful to girls. It can be accessed on www.maketime.org.za,” Thiart said.

“We also provide regular anti-bullying training to teachers and parents, which has been very popular. Since its inception, more than 3000 parents and teachers have received training. So far, in 2021, a total of 997 teachers and parents completed the training course of 1000 Women Trust. Teachers who want to access training, can WhatsUpp Thiart on 073-2079079.

“We have also trained trauma councillors that visit schools to share the necessary skills with teachers on how to address bullying. As we speak, we have sent several of our trauma councillors to four schools in Limpopo to share important skills with teachers on anti-bullying mechanisms,” Thiart said.

Thiart said the best deterrent to bullying and cyberbullying in schools is to create a culture of acceptance and communication. Such a culture empowers learners to find positive ways to resolve conflicts and has an administration, teachers, and other staff who can support learners in making constructive decisions and respond proactively when aggression of any kind exists on the school campus.

Schools must establish an anti-bullying policy with input from all members of your school community to determine how your school will implement rules of conduct.

Put into action a school-wide plan – disseminate a bullying prevention plan that involves all adults on campus in knowing how to support positive behaviour, address unacceptable actions, and refer learners who need additional counselling. Participate in Anti-bullying Campaigns and organise workshops for teachers and parents. Arrange sessions where children can speak out and report.

Incorporate bullying prevention in lesson plans, teach learners how to effectively respond to bullying, and provide resources to parents so they can be partners in your anti-bullying efforts.

Tougher legislation is needed in South Africa when it comes to bullying and a formal stand against any form of bullying in the young or the old can bring awareness into the future that could influence the lowering of statistics of violence against women and girls in this country, Thiart added.

According to police statistics released in 2020, nine murders and 19 attempted murders which were recorded by the police between April 2019 and March 2020 were a result of bullying in schools.

The statistics revealed that 345 assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm and 546 common assault cases were opened as a result of bullying in the country’s schools.

The extent of school violence was getting so extreme that teachers are getting their own textbook – a guide to protecting themselves against violent pupils in class. In March 2020 it was reported that the South African Council for Educators drafted a 124-page handbook on how teachers in primary and high schools should deal with violent situations.

Media release compiled by Fanie Heyns on behalf of 1000 Women Trust. For more information, contact Tina Thiart on 073-2079079.