The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) indicates that school bullying impacts on a learner’s academic performance. The Study also states that pupils who were victims of bullying did worse in Mathematics than those who were not bullied.
In response to the high prevalence of bullying in schools, the Department has developed and implemented information and awareness campaigns to address all forms of bullying using multiple strategies and partnerships in schools. During April 2018 a national bullying prevention programme will be launched and rolled out to all South African public schools under the slogan: STOP, WALK, TALK. The DBE has collaborated with Mindset to create an anti-bullying animated television series for primary and high schools to assist in curbing violence in schools. The series will be broadcast on the DSTV Channel 319, the OVHD Channel 134 and Stars at Channel 309. These series will be utilised in support of the STOP, WALK, TALK Anti-bullying Campaign.
Victims and perpetrators of bullying are at risk of academic and psycho-social challenges which may lead to depression, anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem and even suicide. These learners are at risk of absenteeism, underperformance and dropping out of school. Bullies are more likely to become involved in criminal activities and traffic violations. Learners who are both victims and perpetrators of bullying, are found to have significantly lower levels of social acceptance and self-esteem than children who are bullies or victims only.
The DBE is urging education stakeholders to unite against bullying behaviour in schools in order to create an environment that is conducive to learning. The National School Safety Framework (NSSF) was developed as an all-inclusive strategy to guide the DBE, Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) and schools in a co-ordinated effort to address violence in schools. The Framework aims to create a safe and violence-free environment in support of learning and teaching for learners, educators, principals, School Governing Bodies (SGBs) and administrators.
Director for the Safety in Education Directorate, Mr Paseka Njobe, said: “The Department has developed and trained educators on the Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Bullying in Schools. This includes all forms of bullying, for example physical, verbal, non-verbal, social, sexual and cyber bullying. Currently, the number of educators trained in all nine provinces totals 6,475, and is on-going”. Bullying policies are implemented in schools through a code of conduct for learners and parents. All government schools also have a confidential reporting system in place, and it is linked to the South African Police Service (SAPS).
The DBE has developed E-Safety Guidelines to educate learners about different types of bullying, particularly online bullying and encourages them to remain vigilant when using e-learning programmes and Information Communication and Technology (ICT).
Learners are advised to immediately report threats and acts of bullying to educators or to the School Management Team (SMT). The SMT must also keep records of recurring incidences. In the case of cyber bullying, learners should notify parents or a trusted adult about the incident.