Plumstead High School launched an anti-bullying campaign on Friday February 1.
The day kicked off with a protest where pupils gathered behind the school fence with placards. Accompanied by hooting from passers-by, pupils from the neighbouring John Graham Primary School watched with great interest.
In assembly principal Craig George said bullying happens in every school and the idea of the assembly is to conscientise pupils around it.
He said bullying has become worse with social media.
“With cyber bullying children have lost their morals and no longer know what is appropriate and what is not. Or how to deal with others with dignity,” he said.
Verline Leo said another aim of the campaign is to ensure that there is a supportive and safe environment for pupils. Ms Leo was on the school’s governing body until she recently relocated to the Cederberg. She continues to support the school through social media and with much help and support from principal George.
Ms Leo said she is surprised by what she sees on the internet. “It’s not cool. Everything I saw on YouTube around bullying ends with suicide. That is the extreme. We must all take responsibility in addressing this issue. Parents need to take note of the child’s interaction with friends and family. The school should also take note. If you see someone being bullied don’t stand back and watch. In doing so you are also a bully,” she said.
“Instead, if you see a child sitting in a corner of the playing field go to them, ask them to join you in the library or in your group,” said Ms Leo.
Hout Bay writer, speaker, and the director at relating.com Sergio Milandri spoke to pupils about how childhood perceptions of conflict have a profound effect on us all our lives. “Reflecting on them without judgement enables us to begin to see conflict as a friend,” he said.
“We need to see each other for what we are. Don’t react to someone because there is something different about them. It can be scary, toxic. We are not taught about relationships in school but we must learn how to be with another person in society. We have come out of a broken society. If we don’t learn how to accept others it can lead to frightening, scary, toxic relationships. We need to accept people for what they are and what they bring to our lives.
“You carry the skills you have learnt at school into your life. In school you have a safe place but the world is a tough place,” said Mr Milandri.
Ms Leo ended the assembly telling pupils that if they do not have something positive to say they must keep quiet.
She then invited pupils to tell their stories about bullying issues they have experienced. One boy said he has been bullied since Grade 4 when he was called gay and a moffie.
Then two girls climbed onto the stage, one was the friend. Holding hands, hugging, the girl said she was bullied about her body.
Children said she was too thin, “sticks and bones”. Then in Grade 9 it started again and she was called “grot”. This derogatory term meaning ugly brought shock from the audience.