Cyber Bullying

A scary Monster that lives in your child’s own school

A study was conducted with more than 20 000 people from 28 countries by Ipsos Global Adviser, revealing some seriously shocking truths about the state of South Africa’s cyber-bullying levels; as South Africa ranked highest among these countries for cyber bullying, it was revealed that since 2011, there has only been a 9% increase of cyber-bullying awareness in South Africa.

Ipsos Global Advisor’s South African representative Mari Harris has suggested that one of the major causes of these significantly high statistics was due to the increase in youth access to Social Media; which was further confirmed as more than 60% of parents reported that these incidents took place on social media with the remaining on mobile phones, which include email messaging, online chats and online messaging. The horrifying revelation also indicated that in the majority of cases, the cyber-bully was in fact usually one of the victim’s class-mates

As a parent what you should know

As a parent the first thing that you need to understand is that children perceive emotions differently to adults; things that may seem quite harmless and innocent in our eyes might be perceived quite differently through children’s eyes. Due to the emotional aspect of this, there has been more reports of self-harm and suicide due to the bullying epidemic we are facing.

According to the South African School Act (Sasa) Act 84 of 1996 code of conduct schools have the right to suspend a scholar or learner who has been found to be a bully and yes, they could be expelled after investigation and a disciplinary hearing. This does still however mean that your child may be forced to face the person causing the emotional/physical torture and there are no guarantees that the bullying would stop and this could also increase or fuel the severity of the bullying. As a parent trying to protect your child, do you really want to place your child in such a predicament? With the statistics and the newest suicide due to bullying can you take the chance?

What to do to help your child

The first step is to inform the school of the incident and secondly is to enlist legal help. The school can only do so much in this case and it is up to you to do the rest. Even thought the schools are still there to protect our children, they do not always have control over the bullying in schools. As a parent you have the upper hand with a legal team to protect your child from further emotional and or physical damage.

It is your right to protect your child and bullying is against the law. The Protection from Harassment Act 17 of 2011 which came into effect 2013 refers to any and all mental, emotion and psychological harm brought on to you by another person know or unknown to you. If you are found guilty of bullying and or harassment you could be facing 5 years jail time.

Protection

Your legal team will assist you with the correct procedures to ensure that you can get a protection order from the court. In order to obtain a protection, order you need to prove what has happened and it is not just simple as it sounds.

Your legal team will firstly apply for an Interim Protection Order and this will only be granted if the court feels that:

· The Respondent (Bully) has harassed/bullied in the past;

· Is harassing/ bullying some person;

· And of course, that harm has been or maybe caused due to the harassing/bullying.

Also, good to know here is that the Interim Protection Order may be granted by the court without the Respondent’s/Bullies knowledge of this. Once the Interim Protection Order is given to the applicant the respondent/bully will then be notified by your legal team of the Protection Order as well as the dates that they have to be in court should they need to be in court. Also know that the Protection order is made final if the respondent/bully fails to appear in court or the court finds on balance that the respondent/bully was or is harassing the applicant. In plain words you do not need to go to court and face the respondent/bully if your legal team proves to the court without a double that the applicant is being bullied and or the applicant’s life is in danger.

What is the difference between an Interim Protection order and a Protection order?

The Interim Protection order is the first step and can be given to school and or police should the need arise. This could lead to a warning, but will strengthen your case in getting the final approval of the Protection order. Where as if a Protection order has been granted you receive a Warrant of Arrest that can be handed to the police if the respondent/bully fails to abide with the order. A very important note here is that anyone who contravenes the order can also be jailed.

In Conclusion

As a parent you always have your child’s best interest on your mind and it is difficult to protect them in this day and age from cyber-bullying or even just normal bullying. We do rely on schools to help us protect our children but we need to realize that schools can only do so much and in 99% of the cases your child is going to be forced to face there attacker alone.

You can get legal help to protect your children and or family from harassment/bullying and this can be done without the person responsible for the trauma knowing of it. Other helpful links to assist your child with the emotional aspects.

https://www.sadag.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11&Itemid=114

https://www.lifelinejhb.org.za/Suicide.ashx

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