An alarming trend of cyberbullying targeting girls in grade 8 and grade 9 in a girls’ school in the Western Cape has forced a teacher at the school to conduct research in order to formalize a possible program in order for the school to address the scourge.
“In the past three months, there were four incidences of cyberbullying at our school,” said the educator, a teacher from a girls school in the Western Cape.
“In one incident, a girl was skateboarding and had a fall, someone made a video about it (without her consent). She felt embarrassed about it, but found it humorous afterward.
“Another girl had photos taken of her feet which were posted with a hurtful comment.
“Afterwards, when made aware of it, her father came to the school. Subsequently, in her behavior towards others, she started showing some characteristics of bullying herself,” the educator remarked.
“In a third incident of cyber bullying, a girl was playing netball, and a fellow learner took a photo of her crotch area, enlarged it and then posted it.
In another incident, there was a video taken of a girl in a compromising position with a boy, which was circulated without her consent.
It was done by the boy after she and the boy broke up. It was almost done as a form of retribution by the boy.
Many of the incidence of cyberbullying happened in the lower grades – grade 8 and 9 – at that school.
“At our school, there are informal conversations with the learners on how to prevent or handle cyberbullying,” she said.
“I was asked to advocate an anti-bullying initiative that would address all sorts of bullying procedure and what you can do to address and limit it. I looked at resources and an organization in America, recommended 1000 Women Trust as a resource to address cyberbullying in South Africa,” she said.
It is reported that as many as 57 % of South African learners have been bullied at some time during their high-school careers.
When one considers that we have 2.2 million school-going children in this country, these percentage translate into truly staggering numbers.
1000 Women Trust has decided to create awareness and provide women and girls to find their own solutions to the problem of bullying in communities, said Tina Thiart, founder member of 1000 Women Trust.
1000 Women Trust created an anti-bullying toolkit made available to parents and children to address bullying and cyberbullying.
Thiart said that in a trauma-informed school, the best deterrent to bullying and cyberbullying 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 the aggression of any kind exists on the school campuses.
If somebody is interested in contacting 1000 Women Trust, they can contact Tina Thiart, trustee of the organization, on whatsupp on 073-2079079. The website can be visited on www.1000women.co.za, and the organization’s information on bullying on www.bullying.co.za.