Bullying is a form of violence in our schools
In a booklet he compiled and recently released to the media on young offenders and policing school violence, a professional member of the Namibian police, Matongo Lunyandile, points out that the police cannot afford to turn a blind eye to problems in local schools as it may gradually grow and come back to haunt the society in the future.
In the same booklet, Lunyandile looks at various forms of violence in schools, one of them, which is bullying. He says there are six defining characteristics of the act of bullying:
Intent to harm: The bully derives pleasure of the harming of others;
Intensity and duration: Bullying can continue over a long period;
Power over the victim: Because of the bully’s age, strength, gender or size;
Selection of victims: Those that appear vulnerable due to their apparent inability to defend themselves;
Lack of support; and
Characteristics of the bully include:
Alcohol and drug use;
Lack of parental supervision;
Lack of empathy towards the victim;
Aggressive and impulsive behaviour;
Bigger and physically stronger than the victim;
Refusal to accept responsibility for own actions; and
Likes to dominate others.
Various types (forms) of bullying are distinguished:
Physical abuse: hitting, kicking, pushing, biting, suffocating, strangling, burning, hair pulling, showing or encouraging someone else to do it (indirect action);
Verbal abuse: name-calling, insulting, teasing or spreading a rumour (indirect action). Verbal abuse is the most common form of bullying;
Relational abuse: threatening or excluding the victim from group activities (indirect action);
Emotional abuse: terrorising, humiliating, corruption, ostracising, blackmailing or encouraging someone else to humiliate the victim (indirect action); and
Sexual abuse: touching, penetrating, harassing, bra-snapping, or telling jokes of sexual nature or reference to sexual acts or wearing clothing with sexually offensive words (indirect action).
He further points out that bullying is not a new concept, though it might be seen by many as something normal, given the age of perpetrators, but it has a far-reaching and long-lasting impacts on victims.
Bullies take advantage of an imbalance of power, such as greater physical size, higher status or the support of a peer group (or even educator) to bully.
It affects the sense of safety of learners and can affect the social environment of a school, creating a climate of fear amongst learners. It may inhibit their ability to learn and lead to anti-social behavior, such as damage to property, skipping school, dropping-out of school, use of substances and even theft. Criminal behaviour may originate in bullying.