Bullying in schools seems to becoming more and more of a serious issue in Hermanus – one that no one is paying attention to. When children fight, we tend to say “oh, they’re just children” or “boys will be boys”… but surely there is a limit to this? The effects of bullying can last long into adulthood.
My friend’s children had an extremely tough time at a primary school in Hermanus and I am sure that they are not the only ones. They attended the school for just a year before she moved them. Her one son, in particular, had a very hard time. In one incident, his classmate thought that putting hot glue on the back of his neck would be funny. He still has a scar. The bully’s punishment? He was told to say sorry.
The same son later went on a school camp even though he was terrified of going. While he was out of his room at camp, a few of the bullies looted his bag, stealing a bag of sweets from his mom and throwing his belongings everywhere. There was no punishment for this either.
Her other son was also bullied at the school: he got knocked to the ground and was then kicked in the ribs. He hurt his wrist in the fall. Again, there was no punishment for the bullies (because, you know, “boys will be boys”). She started struggling to get her children to go to school in the mornings because they feared going. None of the situations were handled properly by the staff or the principal.
I witnessed bullying once again at the school last week when I walked past and saw two young boys on the rugby field before practice. The one boy was standing over the other and picking him up by the shirt, slammed him into the ground repeatedly before I yelled at him to stop. How does an eight-year-old think it’s okay to do this to another child? If that was my child bullying students I would be livid. Both the school and the parents need to take responsibility.
According to Childline SA, bullying includes:
- People calling you names
- Making things up to get you into trouble
- Hitting, punching, biting, pushing and shoving
- Taking things away from you
- Damaging your belongings
- Stealing your money
- Taking your friends away from you
- Spreading rumours
- Threats and intimidation
We need to teach our kids that it is okay to tell someone when they are being bullied and that it does not make you a snitch or a ‘tattle-tale’. Children will not talk to anyone if they feel that they’ll just be bullied more because they came forward. They need to feel safe and that will only happen if the schools start to deal with bullying incidents properly.