The Division of Corporate Affairs at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) in collaboration with Umtapo and DUT Student Counselling and Health Department hosted a webinar on: Critical Analysis of Bullying in Schools: Developing A Pedagogy of Ubuntu, via MS Teams, last week.
The webinar included guest speakers, Professor Dorothy Espelage, Psychologist and Professor of Education: University of North Carolina (USA), Paseka Njobi, Director: School Safety Department of Basic Education (SA), Mxolisi Nhleko, learner: Sithokozile Secondary School and former Umtapo Peace Club member, Kuhle Ntintile, National Co-ordinator: NACCW Isibindi Ezikoleni. The programme facilitator was Ayanda Mthethwa, Psychologist: DUT Student Counselling and Health. The welcome address was given by Dr Julia Mathuetsi Matetoa – Mohapi Coordinator: Technology, Transfer & Innovations, followed by the guest speakers giving their input and talks on the issue of bullying at schools.
Prof Espelage focused on her presentation on: A Critical Analysis of Bullying in Schools: Prevention Focus. She looked at the policies, procedures-behavioural expectations, social-emotional competencies and ongoing staff training.
She explained what bullying was, the social interactional learning model and spoke on Gender Harassment. Prof Espelage conveyed more on youth-driven interventions, saying that the youth do feel that schools should work harder to establish a positive school climate.
“Adults need to pay attention to emotional and physical safety. The youth indicated that fairness and equity issues need to be addressed directly,” she said.
She also relayed more on virtual reality bullying prevention approaches, trauma-informed approaches to violence prevention and restorative problem solving.
“Prevention programmes yield reductions in bullying and victimisation, and gender-based aggression,” she said.
The next speaker, Ntintile spoke on the NACCW Isibindi Ezikoleni intervention that addresses bullying in schools. He relayed that the Isibindi Esikoleni and Funda stories allows children to explore and read about issues that affect their everyday lives (e.g. sugar daddies). Through Isibindi (CYCWs in Communities) and Isibindi Ezikoleni (CYCWs in School).
Nhleko, a learner from the Sithokozile Secondary School in Clermont, spoke on the Umtapo Programme on Bullying in Schools: #BullyingMustFall.
“As a young person from my primary school days I have been advocating for peace, anti-bullying and no abuse in schools and in the community. It is a great honour to be talking about this burning issue of bullying that is spreading like wild fire in our schools. As we have seen and heard in our televisions and radios that leaners have committed suicide as they could not bear the bullying and abuse any longer and they felt embarrassed and sometimes blame themselves for being bullied,” he said.
He said that people often think that bullying and abuse happens to women and children but men do get bullied and abused too but they are overlooked as all others are.
“Bullying is a serious issue that is plaguing our schools and the community and it need to be addressed urgently as we are losing young lives to it. Through camps and workshops that Umtapo has done with the schools I have learnt that not only the victim of bullying will be affected in the situation of bullying but there might be underlying issues that the perpetrator is also going through and they are taking out their anger or frustration in other children,” he said.
He also said that the Umtapo Speak Out Against Bullying and Abuse Campaigns have been very helpful in breaking the silence against abuse because it gave learners the courage to speak out and report bullies and abusers.
He said further that bullying is everybody’s problem, so it is important that the community and other stakeholders in the community work together in addressing and ending bullying.
“Let’s unite and bring back the spirit of Ubuntu in our schools and communities,” he said.
The webinar ended with a robust question and answer session, followed by the vote of thanks given by Mr Zwakele Ngubane, Director: Advanced & Alumni Relations at DUT.
Pictured: Professor Dorothy Espelage, Psychologist and Professor of Education: University of North Carolina (USA)