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School bullying addressed
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Bullying can have lifelong adverse effects on a victim, reason enough to stop this evil in its tracks where it starts: at school.

For several years Brackenfell police have been presenting a bully programme at local schools to address the topic of violence in schools.

“Bullying is a problem in all schools and although schools in the Western Cape must adhere to uniform policies, our programme aims to create awareness among learners,” says Crous.

It is important to distinguish between bullying and peer conflict.

Bullying constitutes an imbalance of power.

“A bully will always focus on someone perceived to be weaker than him or herself. This is where it differs from normal peer conflict, where equal power is present. To bully is to seek power or control, a fact most children do not perceive.”

She adds that bullying is a repeated action, whereas peer conflict is once-off incidents.

Crous says bullying comes in many forms.

“You can bully someone by continuously mocking them about something. You can bully someone by making inappropriate sexual comments or even spreading rumours. Telling other people to not be friends with someone is also a form of bullying.”

In like manner there is a difference between teasing and taunting.

“You can tease someone in good humour, but the moment your intention becomes to hurt their feelings, teasing turns into taunting, and that is bullying.”

Crous says a great concern to police is the extent of cyber bullying among the youth.

“This trend has reached worrisome levels and we receive many phone calls from schools and parents requesting advise. Young people doing this is not aware of what they expose themselves to and make themselves guilty of.”

After identifying what bullying is the programme goes on to guide learners on how to overcome it.

“Learners have to realise that the only way to stop bullies is by speaking out as a collective. If you are a target of a bully or know about someone who is, you must speak out. It must be reported to a teacher at school. Don’t stand around in the circle and take a video of the violence; rather report it. By staying silent you become part of the problem,” says Crous.

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