WCED’s Raise your voice – Not your phone campaign kicks off for 2019
In 2019, we want all our schools to celebrate and encourage the diversity, uniqueness and talents of all our learners in this province, no matter what their circumstances. And as a department, we strive to foster living the values of respect and tolerance in order to build our society based on the values enshrined in the Constitution.
The learners in our care have a right to a safe schooling environment and we have to adopt a zero tolerance approach to bullying if we want to build a caring society.
This morning I visited Westridge Secondary School in Mitchells Plain to kick off the 2019 “Raise Your Voice, Not Your Phone” anti-bullying campaign that was launched in August 2018 to address the effects of bullying in Western Cape schools.
Radio DJ Carl Wastie - who has partnered with the WCED on this campaign - joined me today at the school. The purpose of the “roadshow” is to create awareness around bullying, particularly, the role every learner can play when witnessing such incidents.
A toolkit has been developed to educate learners and schools throughout the province, to “Raise your voice. Not your phone”. It is a message that should be heard all over the world.
We are all aware that bullying is happening at most schools in some shape or form.
It can be verbal, physical, via a third party or 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. And once something is in cyberspace, it is there forever.
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.
Given the prevalence of bullying in our schools, the WCED in August 2018, 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.
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.
Given the sensitive nature of the content that is being provided, child psychologists were also enlisted to provide advice on its development.
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 viewer is then taken to 5 constructed questions that leads the reader to the realisation that learners are also participating in bullying by filming the incident rather than intervening in order to bring an end to the abuse.
See here - http://www.wcg-antibullying.co.za/
A second video was then created which involved the participation of random learners from schools across the metro, who were asked to participate in an interview. A psychologist was asked to show each learner the first video and a number of questions were posed thereafter. They were not briefed on the content. Their reactions are all real.
Just see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBOr46mWHQs
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 also leads learners to various pages of support or advice on how to intervene when bullying occurs.
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.
It is crucial that the rights of learners are respected and protected and that learning environments are created where learners can, free from abuse, make full use of their learning opportunities and I am therefore grateful to Carl for joining me today to raise awareness around bullying in schools.
I look forward to visiting more schools across the province to highlight the effects of bullying.