The Western Cape Education department held an anti-bullying event at Fairmount Secondary school on 15 May supported by Minister Debbie Schafer and radio DJ Carl Wastie.
The event formed part of the wider ‘Raise your Voice, Not your phone’ campaign. The initiative intends to tackle misconceptions around bullying and the use of phones and other devices to record instances of violence or victimization.
“We are all aware that bullying is happening in many schools, both in Western Cape, the country, as well as internationally, in some shape or form,” a media release from the Western Cape government read.
“It can be verbal, physical or via a third party through social media.
“Any learner or parent of a learner who has gone through such abuse knows the pain and trauma it can bring. It can lead to depression, anxiety, self-harming and in some cases, even suicide.
“The use of social media has heightened these risks. Learners are now using various social media platforms to either tease, embarrass, intimidate or torment other learners.
“The sad reality is that it involves thousands of learners – who are either posting, sharing, or re-tweeting videos, photos or messages that damage the reputation or confidence of others.
“With many of the incidents filmed and shared on Social Media for their friends to see, learners don’t realise you don’t need to beat somebody up to be a bully. We needed a way to help learners realise it for themselves.
“The campaign first involves the filming of a fake bullying incident in a school yard. It ends with the simple message: ‘Raise your voice, not your phone’.”
The WCED hope to inform learners that they can be complicit in bullying even if they aren’t the one performing an act of aggression.
“The video exposes how learners don’t necessarily understand the implications of filming or distributing content across social media, and how their actions are just as bad as the bully concerned.
“It is a powerful message that not only reveals the pain one can cause, but also the pain that many have suffered.
“The campaign leads learners to various pages of support or advice on how to intervene when bullying occurs.
“The campaign also provides tips on what one can do to help victims that are being bullied, as well as the types of support that are available for learners experiencing such abuse.
“Unfortunately, many cases of bullying go unreported and the WCED is therefore not able to intervene. It is therefore so important to run advocacy and awareness campaigns such as this regarding the dangers of bullying, and how to combat it.
“We are also delighted that the campaign has also been recognised by the IAB Bookmark Awards – winning a silver and a bronze award at the beginning of the year. at the IAB Bookmark Award. Paxton Fielies have also partnered with us on this campaign. They certainly helped raise the profile of the campaign and drew much needed attention to the dangers and risks associated with bullying in our schools.”