Here at St Thomas we aim to promote healthy self-esteems for all learners.
This can be nurtured in children by affirming their strengths and talents. It goes without saying that children with a good self-esteem are able to deal better with abuse and harassment and are likely to recover more easily from it.
1. What is bullying?
Bullying is not only physical but also psychological and verbal harassment. It includes calling learners names, making things up to get them into trouble, pinching, hitting, biting or pushing and shoving. It also includes threatening, teasing, ‘dissing’, racial slurs, hate speech, foul language, name calling, rumour-mongering, ostracising, manipulation and domination.
2. Consequences of bullying.
Victims report feelings of vengefulness, self-pity and anger after a bullying incident. If these feelings are not dealt with, such reactions can turn into depression and physical illness. Pupils who are accused of any form of bullying make themselves liable to punishment ranging from a reprimand to suspension and expulsion, depending on the severity of the act. Furthermore, since harassment and bullying is part of the unacceptable behaviour identified in the Code of Conduct for Learners (Chapter 7, Discipline), the discipline procedures as laid down in the Code are to be followed.
3. How do St. Thomas Aquinas learners respond to bullying?
The learner being victimised is to ask the person to stop the behaviour that hurts and to do so immediately. He/she is to tell the person that the behaviour is unkind, that it makes him/her feel uncomfortable. Furthermore, the learner will warn the person not to repeat that behaviour. He/she will try to do this in an assertive way, not with aggression. (Assertiveness involves confidence and control, stating your case, listening and then insisting on your turn to speak, walking away to safety and asking for help if the bully does not stop. Aggressive behaviour such as insulting and hitting is to be avoided).
Onlookers who just stand and watch actually support the bully and keep the cycle going. If they cannot be of assistance themselves, they are expected to alert a prefect or teacher.
If the conflict persists or if it gets out of hand, the teacher is to intervene. The next step after that would be to go to the head of department and then the principal.
A help-box is made available for learners where they can leave notes about what happened or what they observed.