It saddens me both as a parent and the Provincial MEC for Education that bullying is a real issue in many of our schools. Respect for human dignity is one of the values enshrined in our constitution, and bullying is a denial of this.
This is why the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) views bullying in a very serious light.
Unfortunately, many cases of bullying go unreported and the WCED is therefore not able to intervene. I therefore urge parents and learners to report any form of bullying immediately to their class teacher, school Principal or to the Safe Schools hotline, so that we can respond accordingly.
The WCED’s Safe Schools hotline is available to schools, teachers, parents and learners to report all school crime and abuse, and aims to contribute to a safe and crime-free school environment.
The Safe Schools call centre can be reached at toll-free number 0800 45 46 47.
The Safe Schools Call Centre received 45 calls in 2014 concerning bullying, and nine so far this year.
Safe Schools then refers cases to our special education support staff, as required. They include social workers and school psychologists who work with schools to support victims of bullying and interventions to address the behaviour of bullies.
In addition to this support, the WCED also provides training and support to schools on how to deal with bullying. Schools deal with bullying in terms of their codes of conduct, and intervene appropriately to support victims and to change the behaviour of bullies.
Our districts provide training and support as part of broader support on disciplinary issues.
Professional staff are available at all times in districts to assist and advise schools on issues such as bullying.
The districts also run a number of initiatives, awareness campaigns and training programmes in schools which include learners signing anti-bullying pledges.
Our Safe Schools division has also run programmes for many years designed to influence learner behaviour, including learners prone to bullying, and their victims.
The WCED has a policy called “Abuse no More” that provides clear guidelines on how to deal with various forms of abuse, including bullying.
The WCED’s point of departure is that bullying reflects deeper personal problems that we have to address appropriately.
These include an inability to form positive relationships. If we don’t address these problems properly, then we can expect other problems to surface including various forms of anti-social behaviour.
Parents are key to identifying behavioural changes in their children which could be as a result of being bullied. I therefore appeal to parents to keep an eye on their child’s behaviour. If your child seems withdrawn or angry, investigate the reason for these changes and speak to the class teacher immediately if the matter is school related. Parents can contact the nearest District Office if they are not happy with the response of the school.
Our web site includes a popular section on discipline, including guidelines on how to deal with bulling. The guidelines cover types of bullying, the consequences of bullying, how to prevent bullying, support for the victim and how to change the behaviour of bullies.
These guidelines can be found on the WCED website – https://www.westerncape.gov.za/general-publication/bullying-school
Any form of bullying can have dire consequences, and we have to respond accordingly and in a timeous manner.
It is crucial that the rights of learners are respected and protected and that learning environments are created where learners can, free from abuse, make full use of their learning opportunities.
Cell: 076 175 0663
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS