The spotlight once again fell on bullying after a 15-year-old learner took her own life as a result of it. A video showing her being assaulted amid loud encouragement from bystanders, which spread like wildfire on social media, was the last straw. In the FF Plus’s view, this points to a failure of the so-called human-rights culture.
This is according to Dr. Wynand Boshoff, FF Plus MP and chief spokesperson: Higher Education and Training.
Boshoff said that: “Bullying is a specific social phenomenon. Competition is inherent to the social spheres in which people function. The socialisation of young people is a specific environment in which differentiation on various grounds takes place. Not every person who comes out at the top is a bully and not every person who falls behind is a victim.”
“The tell-tale sign of bullying is that there is an aggressor who notices and then decides to exploit a certain vulnerability in a victim. The root, however, is not that the victim is unique, but that the aggressor somehow feels inferior.”
“And the misconception behind the bullying behaviour is that the feeling of inferiority will get better through victimising someone who seems weaker. Bullying can only continue if the victim feels vulnerable and believes that there is nobody who can come to their aid.”
“Physical bullying is unmissable and if it is caught on camera, the guilty parties can be brought to book.”
“Sometimes, however, someone may be bullied, or rather, picked on by being humiliated, without any form of physical injury. Ultimately, the real damage of bullying lies in the emotional impact on the victim. “
“It should come as no surprise that bullying is on the rise at the moment. For more than three decades, human relations in South Africa have been considered according to the human-rights paradigm.”
“The Bill of Rights is enshrined in the South African Constitution. All new legislation is measured against the concept of human rights and old legislation was either abolished or amended accordingly. Posters and textbooks frequently remind learners that they have rights and that they ought to respect the rights of others.”
“Traditionally, cultures have developed mechanisms to counteract bullying. Certain adults or even more mature young ones are usually tasked with managing the social interactions between children. And punishment is associated with violating one person’s rights with regard to those of another.”
“However, in the name of human rights, this authority has been diluted. It creates an authority vacuum that, like any other vacuum, requires to be filled. Those who fill it are those who can now act with impunity in the context of the new human-rights culture. Simply put this means that educators have been replaced by bullies as the new authority figures in schools.”
“It will be the pinnacle of irony if it turns out that the much-vaunted human-rights culture has lead to bullying prevailing in our schools.”