The fight against bullying

If you film or share a video of bullying, you are a bully too.

This was the message driven home by a new campaign launched at Beacon Hill High School on Thursday last week.

Following a recent viral video of a bullying incident at the school, the MEC for education, Debbie Schäfer along with Paxton Fielies and radio DJ Carl Waistie chose the school to launch the anti-bullying campaign, “Raise your voice, not your phone”.

“Given the prevalence of bullying at schools, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has embarked on a campaign to highlight the effects of bullying on learners, as well as to draw attention to the fact that learners who film, post or distribute videos are also participating in the bullying,” read a statement from the department.

Gregory Kannemeyer, school principal, encouraged the learners to absorb the information and implement it in their lives.

Waistie, who shared his own story of bullying, also encouraged the learners to step up and speak out against bullying.

“I was bullied at school but I came to realise that I was unique. We are all different and that makes us limited edition. There will never be another like us,” he says.

“As small as I am, I had to one day break up a fight and afterword people asked why I did that because it was entertainment. Sometimes speaking out is standing up and saying no or stopping it.”

The video showed a group of girls fighting, using foul language. The video was shared on social media.

Schäfer says that while there are good ambassadors at the school, she was shocked at the discovery of the incident.

“Anti-bullying is everyone’s responsibility,” she says. “I saw the video of what happened at the school and I could not believe it. The language was awful.”

The learners were shown a video of bullying, which explained the essence of the campaign, while the children laughed at times, Schäfer acknowledged the seriousness of the issue.

“There has been bullying for decades but it is much worse now with the prevalence of social media,” she says.

Alessio Marcus, junior deputy mayor of the Junior City Council and school representative, says the incident earlier this year was left in the best of hands.

“We all know about the bully video that circulated earlier this year so as a school and with the MEC we want to encourage the learners to do better. If girls are not respecting each other, how do they expect others to respect them,” says Marcus.

“It is very important for us to acknowledge bullying. When the incident happened, it did not affect our discipline. Our discipline is still at its tip top. This opened the eyes of our learners.”

Fielies also shared her experience of cyber bullying.

“Social media plays a huge role in my career because I use it to promote my music. There are lots of people who share love and support but I also got weird messages and so much hate. I got threats and I said I would be strong and ignore it but the bigger I became, the more hate I got,” she says.

“People judge you on your appearance and it is not easy. I think I cried more in that time than I did in my entire life before that.”

She also performed a song and further lent her voice to the fight against bullying.

V Visit to view the video.