Mangaliso Kabulika

BULLYING is more prevalent in private schools compared to Government schools, a teacher has told H-Metro.

The teacher didn’t want to be named for professional reasons.

“Bullying is more prevalent in private schools compared to government schools,” said the teacher.

“Private schools usually employ people who have not studied psychology and sociology in education.

“This leads to depression and affects them emotionally and, if not handled properly, it can lead to suicide.

Although traditional forms of bullying in schools such as beating, teasing and threatening are still in place, it has now become more sophisticated and less physical than before.

With the rapid development of technology, bullies now use social media, messaging apps and anonymous online forums to launch attacks on their victims.

The power of online anonymity and the lack of social control has enabled a new wave of cyber-bullying among students.

It has become easier to insult, degrade or spread rumours about someone without being found out.

This trend has a damaging impact on the mental health and well-being of those targeted, leading to depression, anxiety, and even suicide in some cases.

Equally concerning is the prevalence of body shaming where students are targeted for their physical appearances.

“The introduction of E-learning during the Covid-19 era triggered cyber bullying and body shaming of students,” said the teacher.

“Students created WhatsApp groups outside learning groups which they used to insult each other.

“We had a case whereby one student took a picture of another sleeping in class and posted it on their WhatsApp group with many students from various schools in Harare.

“Other students started creating memes of that student passing derogatory comments.”

She added: “A primary school teacher said the predominant form of bullying at that level was that of older students demanding lunch from the lower grades.

“We also have students teasing others over their dressing and this usually results in some children refusing to go to school for not wanting to be laughed at,” she said.

Wayne Madzeru, a psychologist, said bullying in schools is often influenced by a combination of individual, social and environmental factors.

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