Bullying between children is an enormous problem. During the December Holiday Annamart van der Merwe, from the Western Cape office presented PROCARE’s Anti-bullying Life skill Programme (called Beemy) at the Hoogland Farm nearby Ceres in the Boland. PROCARE Western Cape is privileged to be the service provider to 9 Karsten Farms in the Western Cape since 2015. The focus of the Karsten farms is not on the wellness of employees but also on their families.
Imagine if, for 16 days, there was no rape, no child abuse. The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign challenges South Africans to declare a truce on violence against women and children – and, ultimately, to make it a permanent one.
For the 16th year, South Africa is taking part in the global 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign, which runs from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) through to International Human Rights Day on 10 December.
With the theme “Count me in: Together moving a non-violent South Africa forward”, the campaign will be officially launched by President Jacob Zuma in Reiger Park, Ekurhuleni, on 25 November.
While the campaign runs only for 16 days each year, its objectives are reinforced by a year-long programme and a national plan to combat abuse.
South Africa is still home to high levels of violence against its women and children, despite a world-renowned Constitution and a legislative overhaul that safeguards women’s and children’s rights.
The government, business, civil society organisations, faith-based organisations and the media are all participating in the drive to increase awareness of the negative impact of violence and abuse on women and children. Read more:
Whether because of not getting a snack he wants or fighting with a playmate over a toy, even young children get angry at times. And while anger itself isn’t good or bad, the way a child deals with anger can be constructive or destructive. As a parent, it might be tempting to send a child to his room for acting out in anger or to yell at him to stop being mad. But it’s better for your child if you help him develop the ability to cope well with anger. Here are some strategies to use.
- Talk it out. Calmly ask your child to explain what has caused her to become so angry. Talking through the issue can help some children work through the anger and calm down. If your child doesn’t want to discuss it with you, she may feel comfortable “talking” to a pet, puppet, or imaginary friend.
- Get physical. Kids can let off some steam by stomping their feet, punching a pillow, or pulling, twisting, or pounding on clay. Dancing around or taking a walk may also help. Encouraging a child to do things he enjoys — drawing, walking the dog, reading — can also help refocus his thoughts away from anger.
- Give comfort and affection. Let your little one know that you genuinely care about his situation and feelings. Toddlers can be comforted by your physical presence as can older kids facing a frustrating situation. And never underestimate the power of a hug to make a child feel loved and accepted.
- Set a good example. Children mimic adults so the way you handle your own anger and frustration is sure to affect your child. Model positive coping skills — like doing something that calms you or getting away from a frustrating situation — and your child is likely to do the same.
- Praise good behavior. Let your child know that you notice when she deals with her anger in a positive way.
The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child’s condition
Stress might be useful for dodging sabre-toothed tigers, but it doesn’t help so much with exams
The majority of us have, at one time or another, been in a situation where you sit down at the desk and open your exam paper, only to realise that somewhere between the door and your seat, all of the information that you’ve been revising for the past few months has leaked out of your ear. You start to panic because you’ve completely forgotten a year’s worth of work and all you can hear is the ticking of your watch as it counts down the minutes until the end of the exam.
This particular form of stress is known as exam anxiety and some people are more susceptible to it than than others.
Stress is a natural, healthy bodily response which humans have evolved in order to protect them in times of danger. When an individual is faced with a stressor, a hormone is released within the body which causes various physiological changes; the heart begins to pump faster in order to supply the body’s muscles with a larger supply of oxygen, blood pressure therefore increases and the body perspires more to prevent over-heating due to the body’s increased metabolic rate. Although this evolutionary advantage is excellent at preparing the body for a fight with a wild tiger, it’s not as magnificent when it comes to students and their exams.
Read more: 10 ways to beat exam stress
According to findings by social research psychologist Martyn Denscombe, teenagers suffer from exam stress for four reasons. The educational or occupational consequences associated with the outcome of the exam; their self-esteem with regards to the outcome of their grades (students are likely to have a higher self-esteem with higher grades); judgements from friends and parents in relation to to their performance; and fear of disappointing their teachers.
So what can you do?
Firstly, you need to remember that although it feels like the most important thing in the world, this test isn’t worth the physical strain that you’re putting on your body. When you’re feeling the effects of exam anxiety and your brain feels blank, take a drink of your water and breathe deeply and slowly. This will allow your body to rehydrate and to stop the effects of the stress response.
Many teachers, friends and family believe that they are further the students by saying “if you don’t get an A-grade you won’t get a job” but it can actually cause increased pressure for the individual. It could be an idea to sit down with your family members before-hand to discuss realistic expectations so that there isn’t too much pressure being put on the student.
Why do we become forgetful and how can we avoid it?
Excessive anxiety can make it almost impossible for the student to focus on their exam and it is often the case that they struggle to recall things that they have studied. This is because – due to that pesky evolutionary response again – the body releases large amounts of the stress hormone known as cortisol during times of stress. Studies have shown that cortisol impairs the speed of memory retrieval in humans.
Nutritional biochemist Shawn Talbott’s research shows that there is 50 per cent more cortisol in the blood stream if an individual has six hours’ sleep instead of the recommended eight hours. It is also important for you to maintain a nutrition-rich diet, drink plenty of water and eat three meals a day; this will keep the cortisol hormone at a natural level and allow you to concentrate fully on the task at hand.
Examination anxiety before the exam begins
Some people find that after suffering a highly stressful test once, their past experiences create schemas for how they expect future exams to be and therefore become more and more stressed in the lead up to their exams. This form of chronic stress causes all of the same physiological changes as the immediate stress response but over a longer period of time. This can cause high blood pressure, heart disease and seriously weaken the immune system.
Chronic stress is difficult to overcome as it tends to build up over a period of time. With this information in mind it is important to identify potential future stressors at the beginning of the educational year and to plan your revision timetable and making sure that you attend your lectures throughout the year in order to make it easier for yourself when it comes to the exam period. The typical student stressor is leaving their projects and work till last minute, always using the excuse that they work better with a tight deadline; we all know from experience however, that students are actually just too laid-back.
The way schools react is important
The most effective thing that a school can do to reduce bullying is to have a policy outlining how the issue is raised within the curriculum, and how incidents are dealt with after they have happened i.e. the policy must acknowledge the need for both pro-active and re-active strategies. But no school has the answer to every problem, and no single method can be used to deal with all bullying incidents.
The way in which adults react to bullying contributes to the ethos of the school and can help to make it more or less likely that bullying will happen in future. Ignoring the problem encourages it to flourish. A heavy-handed approach can drive it underground. However, a positive, open response will encourage young people to speak up about matters that concern them and will improve the learning environment by promoting more caring and responsible patterns of behaviour.
How should schools react?
This will depend upon:
- The circumstances – always assess the true nature of an incident before applying any strategy. Group bullying or “mobbing” needs to be handled differently from problems created by an individual who persistently bullies others. Such a person’s bullying may be merely one manifestation of a plethora of problems.
The existing practices and resources of the school – for example, there is no
point trying to encourage a counselling approach if potential counsellors are not given the training, time and support needed to fulfil the task.
Which strategies are best?
Schools are getting better at dealing with bullying but it will be some time before a quick resolution of all incidents can be guaranteed. Sometimes all that is needed is a simple word or two from a teacher to make children realise that what they are doing is wrong. At the other extreme some bullying remains intractable. The development of new ideas continues and all it is possible to do at the moment is to list some of the strategies for which success has been claimed and to provide a few words of commentary on each.
- Punishments such as suspension or expulsion can mark the seriousness with which an episode of bullying is viewed and can also help to provide a safer environment for victims. It also has to be recognised that some types of bullying are crimes. Schools are subject to the law of the land so the possibility of punishment in response to very serious incidents cannot be denied. However, the great majority of bullying goes unpunished so some new ways of helping the thousands of hidden victims of bullying are needed.
- Assertive discipline – a method developed the United States which involves a rigid system of rewards and sanctions consistently applied by all teachers in a school. It is claimed that this method helps to motivate learning and to reduce the level of classroom indiscipline, but its effectiveness in coping with bullying is not clear.
- Bully boxes – a simple method whereby youngsters can put their concerns on paper and post them in a “bully box”. What happens to these notes is the key to the success or failure of this technique. Can genuine comments be distinguished from frivolous or malicious ones?
- Bully courts – the idea that young people should play a part in making school rules and in deciding what should happen to those who break them is not new. Some progressive schools introduced councils to do this over fifty years ago. More recently a few schools have tried to establish courts or councils solely to deal with cases of bullying. However, the principle that young people should sit in judgement on their peers, and punish wrongdoers remains controversial. What is clear is that adults must play an active and guiding role in such proceedings in order to protect the welfare of all the young people involved.
- Counselling – a teacher or another adult may have the skills and time to offer support to young people involved in bullying. Both bullies and victims can benefit from this process. The main problems are that it is time consuming, the youngsters must take part voluntarily and there is a lack of trained counsellors in schools.
- Mediation – some schools have introduced schemes where two parties to a relationship problem agree that a third person, who may be either an adult or another young person, helps to negotiate a solution. This seems to be helpful in many situations, especially where there is not too large an imbalance of power between the protagonists – but not in all cases of bullying. A bully may refuse to take part because he or she has no interest in ending the bullying. A victim may feel that a negotiated solution is not appropriate when it is the other person who is entirely in the wrong.
- Peer counselling – a small number of secondary schools have used older teenagers as peer counsellors. Good training and continuing support is vital if these young volunteers are to be able to help victims who may be quite seriously distressed.
- The ‘no blame’ approach – a step by step technique which allows early intervention because it does not require that anyone should be proved to be at fault. A group of young people, which includes bystanders as well as possible bullies, is made aware of a victim’s distress and is asked to suggest solutions. This approach is particularly useful in dealing with group bullying and name-calling, when it may be difficult to use more traditional remedies.
- The ‘shared concern’ method – a Swedish technique which has much in common with the “No blame” approach, although it has not been widely used in Britain, perhaps because it is more elaborate and time consuming. Both of these methods have been criticised for failing to allocate blame but both aim to encourage bullies to accept responsibility for their actions as well as bringing the bullying to an end.
- “Solution focused approaches” share much of the philosophy of the previous two strategies but can be applied to problems other than bullying. This is helpful because the task of finding out the facts of an incident and then of making a judgement about whether it should be called bullying or not is sometimes impossible. Relationship problems amongst a group of children can be very complicated indeed. They can also be very damaging to the personal development and education of some of the individuals involved. Being able to intervene without wasting too much time trying to untangle emotional knots has obvious attractions for busy teachers.
- Reporting systems – it is most important that schools should have efficient ways of recording reports of serious bullying so that a check can be kept of patterns of behaviour. This can also help to ensure that incidents are not overlooked.
- “Safe rooms” have been set up in some schools at break and lunch times as a refuge for bullied children. Although this may provide safety in the short term, it could have the effect of making the rest of the school seem even more hostile to the children who use it.
- Telephone help lines – services such as ChildLine provide valuable support to children who are afraid to speak out about bullying. However, the fact that they exist is a signal that some schools are failing to provide conditions in which children are able to discuss their problems openly. One or two schools have set up their own internal help lines in an attempt to increase the opportunities for worried children to seek help.
The drug problem in South Africa is extremely serious, with drug usage reported as being at twice the world norm. Over 15% of our population has a drug problem.
In light of SANCA’s drug awareness week from 24 to 28 June and Youth Month, now is the perfect time to place drug abuse in the spotlight. According to Patrizia Scalone from Metapsychetc, substance abuse can simply be defined as a pattern of harmful use of any substance for mood-altering purposes that gives rise to both physical and psychological dependence. “Dependence results in mental, emotional, biological or physical, social and economic instability. The effects of substance abuse on an individual form the basis of its increasing effects on society. This is a major danger of substance abuse,” she explains.
Studies show that people who start drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become alcoholics. School kids who use alcohol or drugs are three times more likely to get involved in violent crimes. Frighteningly the average age of drug dependency in South Africa is 12 years old and dropping. “We need to warn our youth about drug use and encourage them to stand strong against peer and adult pressure,”
Along with peer pressure, there are several other major factors that can influence the abuse of drugs among youths namely weak parental control, child abuse, imitation, emotional stress, truancy among students, the availability of the drugs and the ineffectiveness of laws on drug trafficking.
No matter how much or often substances are consumed, if drug use is causing problems in the person’s life – at work, school, home or relationships – there is likely a substance abuse or addiction problem. “In many cases, there is a fine line between regular use, substance abuse and addiction. Very few addicts are able to recognise when they have crossed that line,” says Scalone. “The good news is, however, that with the right treatment and support, the disruptive effects of drug use can be counteracted and control can be regained. The first obstacle is to recognise and admit a problem, or listen to loved ones who are often better able to see the negative effects of drug use.” Young people who abuse substances often experience an array of problems including academic difficulties, health-related problems, mental problems like depression, and poor peer relationships. “Family relationships are also affected. Substance abuse by youths often results in family crises and can jeopardise many aspects of family life.”
The social and economic costs related to youth substance abuse are high. They result from the financial losses and distress suffered by alcohol and drug related crime victims, increased burdens for the support of young adults who are not able to become self supporting, and greater demands for medical and other treatment services for these youths.
“There is an undeniable link between substance abuse and delinquency. It cannot be claimed that substance abuse causes delinquent behaviour or delinquency causes alcohol and other drug use. However, the two behaviours are strongly correlated and often bring about school and family problems, involvement with negative peer groups, lack of neighbourhood social control and physical or sexual abuse,” adds Scalone.
Substance abuse is associated with both violent and income generating crimes by youths. Gangs, trafficking, prostitution and growing numbers of youth homicides are among the social and criminal justice problems often linked to adolescent substance abuse.
Peter Jordan (Fedhealth)
Please watch this short video clip consisting of the dangers and consequences of alcohol abuse in teens:
The PROCARE team.
Congratulations have been pouring in this week for our CEO Elsabe Engelbrecht, who has been elected on the South African Council for Social Service Professionals (SACSSP). She has been elected as the representative for Social workers in Private Practice on the Professional Board for Social work.
“This is such excellent news and so richly deserved. I cannot express the extent of my delight and relief that we have a person of your calibre on our professional board. Wishing you strength for the challenges ahead. ~Dana Labe Chairperson SAASWIPP”
“Congratulations, that is excellent news. I believe that your intelligence and strength of character will be of vital importance in the work that lies ahead. I think that this will be a turn-around time for the SACSSP, and that your input will be of great value in all respects and of course for private practice. We support you all the way.”
“Hartlik geluk met jou verkiesing en baie sterkte. Nou meer as ooit het ons sterk leierskap nodig om die belange van ons professie te dien en positiewe verandering van binne die PBSW en SACSSP te dryf.”
“Baie geluk Elsabe glo dit gaan nog net add tot jou reeds oorvol lewe maar dit is dalk iets wat broodnodig is. PROCARE Weskaap is trots op jou, was nog altyd en sal altyd wees!”
Well done, we are so proud of you!!