Schools have become centres of bullying

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Windhoek

While most reported bullying happens in the school building, a significant percentage also happens in places like on the playground or the bus. It can also happen when travelling to or from school, in the child’s neighbourhood, or on the internet.

In 2011 the Urban Trust of Namibia conducted a four-site study on the impact of violence on learner’s access to education. The results indicate that 18.8% of learners had been physically hit, kicked or punched, 17.3% had been frightened or threatened with harm, with further 11.6% indicating that they were forced to do something they felt was wrong, More than 22% had been insulted or intimated.

The Global Student Health Survey of 2013 showed that 38.4% of learners had been physically attacked on one or more occasions during the previous 12 months and 32.5% of learners had been in a physical fight during the same period.

In 2012, safety audits were conducted in Rehoboth, Oshikango and Okahandja Park. The result of these safety audits show that many of the learners experienced some form of violence at school.

Physical violence and being verbally bullied were the most common forms of violence experienced. Research shows that there is a strong relationship between suicide-risk and bullying, with bullying being considered a strong contributing factor to suicidal ideation and attempted suicide

With the recent launch of the national anti-bullying campaign, titled ‘start caring’, we spoke to another learner about his bullying experience and how he dealt with this issue.

Lorenzo Beukes, a Grade 11 learner at the Lüderitz Secondary School, describes bullying as cruel and unforgettable. “I used to be cornered and they forced me to do their homework if I wanted to hang out with them, or else they would make me pay if I didn’t want to.

“They also sometimes expected me to bring them money or food from home. It was too much for me and I couldn’t put up with it for long,” Beukes related. He reached a point where he could no longer endure the abuse and felt he needed to take action to prevent this from happening to others.

“I knew deep down that there was a way out, and suicide was not an option for dealing with bullying. I knew that the only way out – without relocating schools and having the bullying carry on – was to tell an adult.

“I can honestly tell you that I still suffer from nervousness and misery, and I always will. But the feeling of speaking to peers, sharing my story, and having the chance to help someone in need is exceptionally good. Keeping quiet will not help. I really hope that the campaign will let those bullying and being bullied learn a thing or two,” he said.

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