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Time to banish bullying

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Thanks to these technological advances, as a society we have come to appreciate the challenges that are confronting us

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THE widespread use of smart phones and social media has helped to bring hidden social challenges into the open.

More than any other time in our history, events that exposed racism, violence against women and children and bullying in schools have played out in the social media space.

Thanks to these technological advances, as a society we have come to appreciate the challenges that are confronting us.

Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have forced us to start difficult conversations that we have been avoiding for a long time.

One such conversation involves the prevalent culture of bullying in our schools, and the psychological impact it has on the development of learners.

Thanks to Facebook, in particular, videos have emerged of learners being bullied by their peers through physical violence.

It is, therefore, not surprising that the latest survey has revealed that almost 80% of South African 10-year-olds are regularly bullied.

This means South Africa has the highest rate of bullying in the world.

This is according to the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study.

The same global study last week highlighted the sorry state of reading in South African schools.

Of the more than 12000 South African children who took part in the study 42% said they were bullied “about weekly”, and 35% said they were bullied “about monthly”.

Only 22% said they were “almost never” bullied.

Children experts tell us that there is a link between bullying and under-performance in school.

It is also true that children learn best when they are free of intimidation and tension.

This is supported by the study, which says: “Those attending schools with a disorderly environment had a much lower reading achievement than their counterparts.”

Parents, schools and the government have to work together to come up with a plan to rid our schools of this problem.

We need to create an environment in which bullying is not tolerated.

That might go a long way in improving the performance of our learners.