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Cyber bullying on the up

Social media attacks are on the rise, especially amongst teens and young children, some as young as six. Widespread access to the Internet and social media platforms such as Facebook, Mxit and Blackberry Chat provide the perfect opportunity for bullies to mask their identities and create havoc in a person’s life.

“Due to its anonymity, bullying has taken on a new meaning with mobile technology, it has become more aggressive, cruel and vindictive. Cyber bullying is becoming increasingly pervasive and it is being effectively used to damage and break someone down. Mobile phones are a powerful weapon in the palm of a bullies hand,” Dave Swart, school counsellor at Riverside College in Burgundy Estate said.

Bullying itself is as old as humankind, “it is a way that society sorts the strong from the weak, a system used to determine the pecking order,” Swart said. So why the fuss now? “Bullying is no longer about pushing or bumping someone, it has become a severe form of abuse, which is ruining the lives of many thousands of people.”

In fact, bullying has become such an issue in countries such as the States, that October has been billed National Bullying Prevention Month. The campaign has received widespread support on platforms such as Instagram with their #AwkwardYears campaign and #StopBullying has been trending on Twitter.

As with most forms of abuse, bullies are often victims themselves; “many of them suffer from anger or frustration due to their circumstances at home, some do it to look good and assert themselves,” Swart said. “Bullies often aren’t even aware that they are being bullies. We regularly run awareness campaigns at Riverside College and leaners are encouraged to report any form of bullying – cyber or otherwise. Schools need to create a platform for open communication, which engages with the bullies and the victims.”

Established in 2006, Riverside College provides a comprehensive academic, sports and extra mural activity programme to learners – pre-primary, primary and high school. Modern teaching facilities incorporate new technology in a safe and secure environment, classes are capped at no more than 24 learners. Swart has a background in psychology and sociology; he joined Riverside College in the joint roll of teacher and counsellor in 2012.

How to manage bullies:

  • Parents: Teach your children how to cope with life and the many difficulties thrown at them. Enable them with the skills that they will need to stand up to others and help them create their own personal boundaries.
  • Teachers: Take notice when children tell you that they are being bullied. Look out for the signs and don’t ever label children as “sissies” when they reach out and seek help from you.
  • Bullies: Find help! Talk to someone; learn how to deal with life and all the issues that you might be facing. Stop making other people pay for things that you don’t know how to solve.

 ENDS

 

Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications:

Beverley Houston

beverley@be-cause.co.za

021 462 1723 / 082 824 8617

 

On behalf of Riverside College:

Founder: Elana Edwards

Counsellor: Dave Swart

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