The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) says there’s a need to focus on bullies. Sadag says at times people who hurt others are themselves hurting and crying out for help.
The call comes in the wake of a Limpopo learner, Lufono Mavhunga, who took her own life after a video of her being bullied went viral on social media.
Mavhunga family disappointed with how the school handled the bullying issue:
Bullying is an age-old problem, and cyber bullying now is on the rise. About 57% of learners in South Africa are said to have experienced bullying during their high school years.
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group hosted a webinar on bullying. Counsellor Cayley Jorgensen, who was one of the speakers, says bullies themselves might be emotionally compromised.
“A bully may bully someone else not because there are one or two different reasons. But there’s a lot of various factors that need to be considered. And it’s not okay for somebody to be bullied or for somebody to bully. But we do need to understand where the bully is coming from so that we can actually help the bully as well. Because whether they are modelling behaviour from their parents or they are struggling with depression or anxiety. That’s something we need to watch so that we can help kids and adults as well,” says Jorgensen.
Jorgensen is adamant that tackling it from the root would help to mitigate the scourge.
United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) Deputy Representative in South Africa, Muriel Mafico, says the rapid growth in technology is making it difficult to keep children safe.
Mafico says while technology has its benefits, it can harm children.
“There’s no doubt that the accelerating growth of digital technologies has fundamentally altered the child protection landscape as we knew it. When we were growing up, protection was thought of in terms of safe physical spaces. But today when we talk about child protection, we have to think of the virtual world that knows no borders,” the Unicef representative says.
Spotlight on the effects of bullying:
The offensive treatment of people and hostile interactions are common on social media, apps and within gaming communities. Even if one has not been personally targeted, many find the treatment of others distressing.
Masana Kholonyani is a youth who notices bullying on some social media platforms.
“Cyberbullying is real, especially on Twitter, you find people that are too arrogant and full of themselves, shaming other people, either body shaming them and saying all these serious insults so much that other people lose confidence in themselves,” says Kholonyani.
Kabir Budlander is one of the youths who’ve survived bullying. Budlander says ignoring and not forwarding bullying material works.
“The best way is to ignore and also not to re-share. Because if you do that you are also part of the problem,” adds Budlander.
Jorgensen says perpetrators at times get away with it by remaining anonymous on such platforms.