Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) would like to commend Sunday Times and Prega Govender for the article entitled “Teachers need help with bullies” (29/03/09, Sunday Times Review, p. 7) . This well-researched article tackles an important topic affecting children and provides useful tips for readers on how to deal with bullying.

The article is about school pupils bullying their fellow pupils. It includes the experiences and emotions of victims who are said to fear attending school due to these bullies. A variety of sources pushes the story forward and allows parents and teachers to understand what happens in schools.

The article features helpful tips for parents and teachers on how to detect bullying signs, highlighting these in a special column “Telltale signs displayed by the victims”.

It gives the professional perspectives of Childline’s National Director Joan van Niekerk, psychologist Malose Langa and Professor Corene de Wet.

These professionals give parents and teachers tips on how to deal with bullies, encouraging teachers not to turn a blind eye to this form of violence. These are also highlighted in a column headed “How schools and parents should handle it”, making them easier to read.

The article displays both sides of the coin by providing information on how to tell if a child is a victim of bullying, as well as how to respond to bullies.

The article also gives the reader insight into how bullies feel and some of the underlying reasons for why they bully.

The journalist protected the rights of children to privacy and protection 1by not revealing the identities of victims or bullies, who may fear recrimination. This is in the best interests of the children.

While protecting the children’s identities, the article manages to inform readers, who may include older children subjected to bullying themselves, of the experiences of a victim. It gives a sense of context by stating where the victim is from and where the bullying is taking place. It also helps the reader understand the mind of a bully, thus not discriminating against bullies, but rather helping people to understand their motivations and needs.

Sunday Times did very well by tackling a subject which is so relevant to society in this day and age. Prega Govender is to be particularly commended for approaching the topic of bullying in a way that can be useful to parents, schools and children.

1Children have the right to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse and degradation. This right is contained in the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child and written into Section 28 (2) of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (1996). For more information, see Media Monitoring Project (MMP) and Institute for the Advancement of Journalism (IAJ). 2005. A Resource Kit for Journalists: Children’s Media Mentoring Project. MMP and IAJ: Johannesburg.