A social movement now operating as a non-profit company (NPC), has launched an anti-bullying campaign amid reports of what seems to be a rise in suicide among young people.
Stanley Jacobs, the founder of Cape Flats Stories, said the NPC started out as a Facebook page three years ago, when he wanted to counter all the negative stories coming from the Cape Flats. Soon he realised he needed to do more than just create awareness about the social ills, and registered the NPC in 2019.
Since then, Cape Flats Stories have collaborated with various organisations and schools in Athlone, Lotus River, Lavender Hill, Ottery and Mitchell’s Plain to host programmes around gender-based violence, literacy, emotional intelligence and heritage.
“We have partnered with an organisation in Lavender Hill called Rise Up, with its soup kitchen, but we also realised that we can’t just give a child food. We have to give them the tools to navigate the challenges,” Mr Jacobs said.
Last week, their anti-bullying campaign was launched.
“As we see it, bullying does not get addressed as it should. Our communities see it as a norm. We have heard so much over the past few weeks, especially around bullying and suicides. We have quite a large following on Facebook and every Tuesday evening we have live videos. Bullying is one of the topics we discuss,” Mr Jacobs said.
Just last week, the Athlone News reported on a 14-year-old girl whose hair had been set alight at school (“Girl’s hair set alight at Belgravia”, May 26). Before this incident, the girl had reported verbal bullying to her teacher in the first term, according to the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).
As part of the anti-bullying campaign, Cape Flats Stories will be selling face masks to assist with the cost of hosting workshops, as well as counselling services.
Mr Jacobs said apart from the usual costs around catering, venue hire and transport, with the anti-bullying campaign, the plan is also to make use of professionals, so that the young people have access to “talk to a qualified person”.
“This is such a sensitive matter, and we can do it the ‘cheap way’, but if we go that route, we might damage a child much more,” he said.
Cyber-bullying is also “one of the biggest problems”, according to Mr Jacobs, and with the campaign, they hope to teach children how to handle social media.
“These days children from as young as 10 years have cellphones and access to social media”.
Manenberg SAPS spokesperson, Captain Ian Bennett, said young people don’t understand the repercussions and effects of bullying, adding that curbing it would require a whole-of-society approach, including organisations and government.
“Society on the whole, with their actions, contribute to the rise in bullying. All we see is a youngster acting out, but where does that anger come from? Children are exposed to gang violence or gender-based violence, and these could lead to children either being fearful or building up a character to create fear in others. Children need to be involved with positive things. As adults, we at times also do not acknowledge our children, leading to their voices not being heard,” Captain Bennett said.
All the proceeds from the sale of the face masks will be used for Cape Flats Stories’ anti-bullying campaign. If you would like to purchase a face mask, at R65 each, contact Mr Jacobs on 066 206 9207, Shaun on 071 807 9270 or Simone on 076 706 6303.