Updated: Sep 21, 2022
We are at the six-month mark since the Cultural Diversity Education Programme added an anti-bullying module to the workshop. Bullying has increasingly been the subject of much discussion at private and public schools in South Africa and worldwide, with its potentially traumatic effects being well documented. The aim of the SAJM’s anti-bullying module for Grades 5-8 is to invite schools to create an entire culture that is strongly against bullying and promotes social inclusivity.
We have received excellent feedback from schools, most of it centered on the safe space that is created in our workshop for learners to raise issues and share their experiences. On several occasions teachers have become aware for the first time of situations at school and at learners’ homes that need intervention. Personal stories and strong emotions are sensitively handled by facilitators and we encourage a non-judgmental atmosphere. The response from teachers and students has been overwhelmingly positive.
A few comments from teachers:
“The topic of bullying was sensitive but gave me more insight as the educator.”
“Learners responded because they could voice their opinions and talk about real-life scenarios.”
“Well embraced and enthusiastic participation by learners.”
“Wonderfully presented by friendly and professional staff.”
“Loved the programme and facilitators. Topics were dealt with in an age-appropriate manner.”
“Very relaxed, yet structured. Groupwork provided everyone with opportunities to participate.”
“Topics such as tolerance, bullying and different beliefs and customs were covered. Learners gained so much from the programme.”
A few comments from learners:
“I enjoyed role-playing and talking about respect and kindness.”
“I liked the experience and the quality of their teaching was great.”
“I learned a large message about bullies and targets.”
“I learned not to judge a book by its cover.”
“I learned more about others and I learned that you must be yourself.”
“I learned that I shouldn’t be scared of anything that comes my way.”
“I learned a lot about values and how to deal with bullying.”
The module is just the beginning of what students and teachers can put into place for themselves. We start by looking at the issue of bullying from all angles. Motives and emotions of bullies, targets and bystanders are explored. Potential long-term consequences extending into adulthood for all participants are debated. Children are encouraged to find solutions to hypothetical scenarios and, finally, to come up with their own concrete rules and suggestions to fight bullying at their own school.
In the months that we have been running our updated programme we have had enthusiastically positive responses from both teachers and students. If we manage to encourage even a few students to beat the fear and stand up for themselves and others we will be happy. We have been inspired to keep the fight going and to do what we can to help schools do the same.