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Be mindful to keep an eye on your children, especially during exam times

4 June 2024


Never ignore your child when they say they are struggling to cope or show other warning signs such as withdrawals from or avoiding social gatherings.


That is the warning of Colleen Strauss, a registered social worker, who addressed #MISA, the Motor Industry Staff Association, about bullying during the Union’s webinar series to raise awareness during National Child Protection Week.


This year’s theme is “every conversation matters”. #MISA designed the webinar series to educate members on subjects they frequently seek advice about.


“Our children from Grade 10 and older are increasingly struggling to cope with the challenges in school. Parents must pay more attention to their needs, especially during examination time,” says Strauss.


In general, a parent should never ignore when their children talk about suicide, self-harm or even just negative emotions.


“There might be someone bullying them. There is no age restriction on being bullied. That is why parents must listen carefully when their children are trying to tell them something. They might be at a breaking point,” says Strauss.


According to studies that were concluded, more than 3,2 million learners are bullied annually with 95% of South African children having access to the internet.


Strauss says parents tend to tell their children to ignore bully behaviour.


“We tell them to walk away, but that does not help because it only fuels bullying behaviour and makes the bully more aggressive.


“We should tell our children to rather surround themselves with a support structure and to report the behaviour.


“It is of no use to tell your child to just punch the bully, this will result in the victim also getting into trouble.”


According to Strauss, schools are compelled to have an anti-bullying policy and a bully register and to practise a zero tolerance policy. She referred to several Acts which made provision for how to handle bullying on the school ground.


A child can even obtain a protection order against a bully.


“This is all good in theory, but in practise it is difficult to adhere to the provisions of a protection order in a school with limited resources like teachers and classrooms.”


She encouraged parents to seek professional help if their children complain about bullying.


“Parents are not equipped to do a proper risk assessment and understand the seriousness of what the child is experiencing. As a parent you are emotionally involved and cannot be objective.”


Click on the link below to listen to the Webinar:


Issued by Sonja Carstens, Manager of MISA's Media & Communication Department, on behalf of the Union.

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