As we focus this week on protecting and safeguarding children, we hope to raise the awareness of our beneficiaries and staff. Bullying is a critical issue in South Africa.

Our hearts broke at the news of Lufuno, the young lady who took her own life after a video of a bullying incident involving her as the victim went viral. So, as we wear our green ribbons this week, we hold her dear to our hearts, and we go a step further, asking our learners, whose responsibility is it to look out for Lufuno? Lufuno is you, and me, and every boy and girl next to us. We hope to instill a sense of duty in each person that we are our brother’s keepers. Together, we can stand against bullying, and when we are the bully, we must stop first to think how it will impact the other person. Intervening instead of recording on your phone will make the difference. The protection of children is also the duty of children as they make shared spaces safe for each other.

We reflected on that sad incident and asked what the role of each young person is to stop more lives from perishing, and our learners gave this feedback:

“What I can do to stop bullying is to speak out for those who feel that they have no voice. I can speak to others and ensure that I am available to listen. Create an anti-bullying club at school with leaders from every grade to assist. I can start an initiative whereby you come into the school. If you are being bullied, you can drop in the person’s name anonymously in a certain box and ensure that it’s taken a step further. I must ensure that I am not a bully to others.”

“To stand up for those who are afraid to talk and stand for themselves.”

“Try to speak up, tell someone that I trust if I’m being bullied.”

“We as learners should be educated about bullying and the implications it will have on those who we are bullying so we can try our best to treat others better.”

“Bullying starts with young people. Our mentality should change. We should find better and polite ways to treat others. As young people, we have the power to influence, we can easily influence each other into indulging an impulsive behaviour, but we should rather indulge each other into spreading courtesy.”

“Protect your friends or peers by standing up for them against the bullying. Try and talk to the bully. Maybe he has anger issues or has trouble at home or somewhere.”

“I personally think that I am able to be their voice. To address those who are being bullied and the bully themselves… It is all about speaking out when you can and not hold it in. Otherwise, it can eat you up alive. Yeah!

The Sozo Foundation Psycho-Social Team