Bullying is not new, however in recent years the rise of social media bullying has been meteoric. The most recent case to hit the media has been that of a 16-year-old who threatens a 14-year-old girl from the same high school in a vicious video rant. True to form, as is the nature of social media, it spread like wildfire.
This is not where the story ends though. Attracting widespread criticism and a number of malicious memes on social media, the 16-year-old has come under fire on social media and in turn has become the victim herself.
“Whether is it low self-esteem, cultural, social or family related issues, insecurities, such as bullying, racism and hatred towards otherness, manifests in a number of ways. We live in a world of stereotypes and until we get to know each other’s stories, we will treat each other according to the opinions and assumptions that we make,” says Brian Helsby, Head of Youth mobilisation at social change NGO, Heartlines.
Exploring issues around racism, tolerance and empathy, Heartlines, the Centre for Values Promotion, recently launched a national initiative called What’s Your Story. The initiative aims to address the underlying issues that lead to negative behaviour such as racism and bullying through personal storytelling.
“Storytelling is interwoven into our society making it the perfect platform for generating tolerance, empathy and understanding of other people. A simple way to begin addressing bullying and peer intolerance at school or in youth groups is through getting to know one another’s stories,” says Helsby
Exploring the concept of storytelling to create social change and cohesion, What’s Your Story has rolled out a number of resources to faith youth groups, high schools and businesses. The initiative aims to reach more than 10-million people across the country through the stories that are shared .
The resource aimed at high schools is a DVD that comprises:
- A 4-lesson Life Orientation guide to promote understanding, trust and reconciliation in the classroom
- How to take personal storytelling beyond the classroom
- Discussions on diversity and cultural awareness based on the Heartlines film, The Miners
- A real-life story of two high school friends who step into each other’s worlds to promote understanding.
Visit www.whatsyourstory.online to watch, read or listen to what has been shared already or to make your own contribution to the conversation. To find out more about resources for youth groups contact Brian@heartlines.org.za.
Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications
021 447 1082 / 072 4444 267
On behalf of Heartlines
Garth Japhet, CEO