Lilly Singh and Bullying in Classrooms

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

A UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Lilly Singh, went to South Africa in order to meet with children who are working to speak out call out, and reduce bullying and violence in the classroom.

Singh is a Canadian. She led a discussion with students aged 13 to 19. This was in Johannesburg, so she could hear the stories and narratives of the children. Their personal experiences of violence and bullying inside and outside of the classroom.

Singh stated, “I met with children and young people who have experienced a range of violence, from bullying and physical attacks to corporal punishment, sexual assault and harassment… No child should have to face violence at school, a place where they should feel safe and protected.”

This event with Singh was the first to start for UNICEF of the #ENDviolence Youth Talks. These are a collection of student-led dialogues on their experiences of violence and bullying in the classroom.

There is a collective effort — not only in South Africa but also around the world even the advanced industrial economies — to tackle the problem of bullying and violence related to the classroom: on and off the campuses. Who better to know about it than from the young people experiencing it?

There are a variety of organizations devoted to this cause including “UNICEF, the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, DFID and UNESCO, and others in different ways.

They will help inform the work of global leaders with a set of recommendations. More than half of students in South Africa have reported being bullied or subject to some form or peer-to-peer violence — mean age of 15. There are even many who report sexual abuse by their peers.

“In my work with UNICEF, I continue to see first-hand how this generation is coming up with creative and innovative ideas to help end violence in their own schools and communities, through forming peer-led groups, as well as speaking out and creating safe spaces for students to tell their stories,” said Singh. “As I listened to the children and young people, it underscored how vital it is that we involve them in problem-solving and continue empowering them to use their voices.”

The Government of South Africa including the Department of Education along with several partners are working to reduce the level of bullying and violence the young experience at their schools.

The Department of Education founded the Girls Education and Boys Education Movement (GEM/BEM) clubs to help curb the level of bullying and violence experienced by students. There have student-led clubs through these programs devoted to more than 2,000 schools with 975 trained club members.

Their emphases are the promotion of both dignity and mutual respect between the girls and the boys on each school campus. The students are then encouraged to not only to identify but to call out the various forms of discrimination against their peers and themselves that may arise for them.

This seems important as this may precede some action to the violence and bullying of the young.

The article concluded, “UNICEF and Lilly Singh are encouraging young people around the world to use the hashtag #ENDviolence to share what they need to feel safe in and around school. Comments will inform a set of recommendations to global leaders.”

Scott Douglas Jacobsen founded In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.