A 2019 publication by UNESCO titled ‘behind the numbers: Ending school violence and bullying’ reveals that data from countries across GSHS and HBSC suggests that 32% of students have been bullied in some form by their peers at school on one or more days.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest (48.2%) share of students reporting that they have been bullied.
However, psychological bullying is reported more frequently in North America and Europe than in other regions, where according to UNESCO, HBSC data reports that 28.4% of students in North America and 15.1% in Europe reported being left out of activities on purpose or ignored.
Bullying is a global issue and therefor needs to be looked at from a global perspective, especially in Africa where many countries are faced with violence that or threatens or keep kids out of school – because most of these kids reflect or act what they see at home, around the community and some of them reflect what they see on the television.
According to the ‘Global Kids Online’ study, 20% of kids in South Africa have been victims of cyberbullying.
As one would expect, bullying by making fun with sexual jokes exists more towards girls.
Another form of bullying which is also a global issue is homophobic bullying, where studies from different countries utter that young people are more likely to experience homophobic bullying at school than at home or in the community.
One of the biggest challenges facing education minitries around the world is implementing policies that would focus on lowering the high numbers of children being bullied, whether homophobic or not.
The report by UNESCO says;
“Children who are frequently bullied are more likely to feel like an outsider at school. Children who are frequently bullied are almost three times more likely to report feeling like an outsider at school than those who are not frequently bullied. In OECD countries, 42% of those who are frequently bullied report feeling like an outsider at school compared with 15% of those who are not frequently bullied (PISA). Children who are frequently bullied are also nearly twice as likely to skip school more often.”
Schools can however implement policies that will deal with bullying in a more friendly way. For instance, those who bully other children should be made example of, either by suspending them from school or by punishing them in way that won’t breach the school’s code of conduct.
UNESCO recommends that schools train and support teachers to prevent and respond to school violence and bullying.
Whichever route schools take to lower bullying, it should always be in line with what the education system and the country stand for, thus to avoid a chain of bullies from learners to learners and from schools to learners by trying to discipline or punish those who bully others.
Mduduzi Mbiza is a writer, content strategist, researcher, consultant and author of the book, ‘Human Education: The Voyage of Discovery’. He has contributed his articles on education to Daily Maverick, The South African, Voice360 and EduOne.