The SAJM’s popular Cultural Diversity Education Programme for school children has made an important change. While continuing with our interactive workshops on topics of cultural diversity, discrimination, prejudice and the importance of respect and tolerance for all creeds and lifestyles, we have introduced a particular focus on bullying.
Over the last few years, people have begun to take the issue of bullying far more seriously. It has been widely discussed on social media, in movies, TV and radio talk shows and news reports. Bullying incidents have clearly shown to result in high levels of depression, self-harm and even suicide among today’s youth. At the SAJM, our visiting school students increasingly shared their own experiences of bullying, and their teachers spoke to us of the ever-growing problem at their schools. It was evident that the broader issues of prejudice, discrimination and xenophobia we talk about on our programme were being mirrored on a much more personal level. We realised we needed to round off those crucial discussions by focusing on something relatable - the everyday experiences in children’s lives.
The aim of the anti-bullying module is to invite schools to create an entire culture that is strongly against 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.