Bullying is repeated behavior that hurts, harms or humiliates a person either physically or emotionally, and it can happen while at school, in the community or online. Active bullying is physically harmful behavior, like tripping, hitting or pushing, while passive bullying involves excluding a person from a group or social activities. Cyberbullying includes repeatedly sending hurtful or humiliating messages through text or social media.
Almost half of South African Grade 9 pupils (47%) reported being bullied “about monthly” and 17% reported being bullied “about weekly” according to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) from 2015. Learners may be bullied for a variety of reasons, including their physical appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion or social status.
Young people who are bullied may be more likely to have problems in school or experience sleep difficulty, anxiety or depression. The TIMSS Grade 9 country report revealed that pupils who reported “almost never” experiencing bullying scored higher for maths and science than pupils who reported experiencing bullying on a weekly basis.
Young people have a unique power to prevent bullying. Some research estimates that 57 percent of bullying situations stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of a person who is being bullied. Parents and guardians can encourage their children to be upstanders by speaking up when someone is being bullied, refusing to share harmful messages about their peers and reporting bullying when they witness it. Talk with your child about bullying, so they know they can come to you for help if they or their friends are being bullied and make sure to provide them with support and validation of their experiences.
Start essential conversations about bullying with your children, so they know they can come to you if they or someone they know is being bullied. The easiest way to start these conversations is to talk about issues as they arise in everyday life. Here are some ways to start these conversations: