The Bully Project
I once heard someone say: “Never miss out on a good crisis.”
Bullying is one such crisis that actually brings with it a huge opportunity. Only Christ will truly provide a solution to this problem. In essence an individual gets bullied with lies, facts and fear but the truth of God’s Word trumps lies, facts and fear.
At its core, a bully and the victim of bullying, suffers from what I call “the half full glass syndrome.” The bully whose “glass” is not full thinks his “glass” will fill up if he bullies another’s “glass” empty. The victim allows that because his glass is half full. The fact is that only you can fill your “glass!” The simple solution would be to explain to students how they can “fill their own glasses.” That and much more is what the Stop-it bully campaign entails.
History and Background
According to the TIMSS 2019 a study that run since 2011 students were asked about bullying and 29% reported to being bullied monthly and 8% reported to being bullied weekly. “Reports from fourth grade students’ about being bullied were related to their average achievement in mathematics and science… bullied students [had] substantially lower average[s].” This is a phenomenon that is prevalent in South Africa however not restricted to South Africa. “Across countries, there was a negative association between fourth grade students’ reports about the frequency of being bullied and [their] average achievements.”
In 2015 at Grade 4/5 level , South Africa showed the highest incidences of learners being bullied on a weekly basis (44%). 49 countries participated in this survey and SA’s rate is more than double the average of the TIMSS international standard. This statistic, among others, have been the reason that this proposal became important to the team. Post Covid these numbers will not dissipate by itself, we do have a window of opportunity to prepare for the day that life is going to return back to “normal.”
An anti-bullying activation has been spear-headed since 2011 by non other than A-list actor Jacques Gombault to schools in Gauteng about anti-bullying. This led him to develop the intent into a television series. The aim of the series is to create a journey with audiences to construct the necessary dialogue and discussions within families and to equip them with insights and options when facing the chance that one of their family members are faced with bullying. The unofficial title is: “Project Nehemiah! To inspire fathers into position and to equip them with Biblical tools and weapons so as to build the “Wall” in front of their own houses – the children form the wall. That is why schools will be taking part, especially Primary schools, will help to facilitate this process (project) having been provided with posters, booklets, films merchandising as well as motivational material and in the near future an App on the subject.
Furthermore we need to categorically state that we have had great success with the schools we visited and know with the right support we can role the program out nationally and internationally. The main aim was never to be a hit and run campaign but with all the material to address the bully culture in schools and our society. Ultimately to prevent the act of bullying by equipping young people on identifying the early signs. Programming is aimed at positioning this information as obvious to the whole family so that it becomes an obvious observation and therefore easy to spot a perpetrator. To create champions in SA, we need to lift spirits and build our children and the community around them. The show will provide a wealth of information to support families but will also aim to inspire those who support anti-bullying.
Who are we?
Jacques Gombault, MD, of Flutterby productions, uses his personal experience with bullying and years of marketing his films at schools, festivals and shows all over South Africa. He had many one on one conversations with parents on the subject of bullies which helped him formulate the problem as well as incorporate it into his films. In four years he sold over twenty thousand DVD’s out of hand.
Flutterby Productions’ tag line is “Creative media with an Impact.” This tag line is derived from Jacques’ post graduate studies at Pretoria University on the subject of faith based productions to bridge the comminication gap so many people experience unwittingly. In the end the conclusion of his junior thesis was that such an impact production must leave the viewer with a question rather than spoon-feed the viewers with a subjective answer. If you can achieve that, namely provide the viewer with a question, you would’ve impacted the viewer who will be eager to look for the answer. This is the desired Impact the media can and should have not merely propagate the producers agenda.
Why an Anti-Bullying Campaign?
With all the amazing programs that are currently out there one can still raise the question of how effective the current anti-bullying programs are, because a 2019 – pre-covid – survey showed that South Africa still has one of the highest bullying statistics in the world! If what is out there really works then why is there still a bully problem? Many specialists in the field will argue that the bullying problem is a lot more complicated, lack of empathy, social medias metaphorical magnifying glass and that the problem usually starts at home.
Another valid point is that the current anti-bullying projects are predominantly “hit and run” projects – schools are visited with a motivational program and then no further intervention is implemented.
We need to establish a “no bully” culture, that will inform, display and reiterate the lessons learned from the campaign and we need to facilitate it from ideally a program on national TV as well as social media platforms.
Our solution approach
The above mentioned statement needs to be repeated – we need an No Bullying Culture in our schools! To achieve this the pupils, teachers and parents will need to be informed and equipped in an objective and informative way that is empowering and, dare I say it, entertaining – the children in schools must want to engage. To achieve this understanding must be instilled.
Knowledge is power – if you understand bullying, from a victim, culprit, a parent’s and/or a teacher’s perspective – it will be the start to a workable plan against bullying. Problem areas will be identified before the situation escalates.
Like the Headmaster of a Primary school in Nelspruit asked, “give me a language that I can communicate with my pupils on bullying.” Past and present incidents must be discussed so everyone can learn from it. In the social media era pros and cons discussions can really transfer knowledge to everybody.
Gone are the days of motivational speakers visiting schools (that can afford them) to merely speak to the pupils before leaving them to again fend for themselves. To establish a no bully culture that and more must be done. The vision is not only to have school visits, but also a Television campaign, films, posters, merchandising and an app that will instill the no bully culture.
“Questions are more important than answers!” Jacques Gombault
As far as bullying is concerned three films in Afrikaans and English have been produced that does exactly that – it highlights the different aspects of bullying while providing a comparison that pupils can relate to.
The films form a trilogy that (1) addresses the what ever attitude (Lang Gras), (2) the bully issue with amongst boys and (3) the bully issue amongst girls. It however is an injustice to simplify the films and the messages it conveys to merely these three points above. There is really so much more to these films and the accompanying messages that provide understanding to students and a “language” for teachers and parents.
Various Educational Departments have already been approached and have committed to endorse the program with their expertise already in place. What makes our campaign unique is that it uses film and Television to bring the message across. Children learn better visually!
Add to this the “anti-bully kit” pencil case, booklets, posters and the envisioned App and we will be a few steps closer to create a No-Bully Culture in our schools and society for that matter.
To create awareness a Television and social media campaign will be the main drive of the campaign. To make it self sufficient sales of DVD’s as well as streaming of the films will be marketed as well as the selling of merchandising ea. The anti-bully kit pencil case and the anti-bully app.
A roadshow will coincide with the filming of the TV production to ensure affectivity as interviews with pupils, teachers and parents will be filmed.
An interschool competition will be the proverbial cherry on the cake.
The Campaign will happen on three levels.
Television adverts leading up to the show in conjunction with a social media campaign will create the much needed awareness of the campaign. It will also communicate the platforms that the public can engage with the program going forward. This is because many people feel sorry for bully victims but not as much as when it starts happening to their own children – then they want to know where they can go for help, and, as was so often the case, they have to start from the beginning. With this campaign and platform they will be able to learn from past experiences. As well as get the proven “tools” and expert advise that they can apply to their situation.
To start a documented nationwide campaign and road show will run prior to a studio discussion by a panel of experts on the subject. It is with this road show that actual feedback from children (incognito or with their parent’s consent) will be gathered by the producers that can be used in the studio discussion of the show – and the social media campaign. As mentioned this will create awareness of the social media platforms that parents and pupils can use going forward.
To ensure the effectiveness of this roadshow a nationwide competition can be implemented by having school children incorporate their new found knowledge on the subject of bullying with an inter-school competition. It is envisioned that schools will be invited to submit short films shot with cellphones that must convey a positive message on bullying. It is about time that cellphones and bullying gets a positive spin!
Pupils can reenact a bully incident, real or fictional, and then they can submit a discussion on the incident. Not only will this further the awareness it will also draw attention to the campaign. In turn it will mean greater sales of films, merchandising but ultimately be a step closer to a No-Bully culture in our society.
As mentioned the winning schools will get the opportunity to reshoot their winning films with a professional film crew and cast at Sun City’s Vacation Club.
The vision for this interschool competition culminates in the winners of these self made films to come through for a weekend at Sun City Vacation Club. Beforehand they would receive a list comprising of photos and footage of possible locations at Sun City where their winning stories are going to be filmed with a professional crew.
Their brief can be something like this: “You and your family arrive at your favorite holiday destination – Sun City Vacation Club. For months you have been looking forward to this holiday, because after all that has happened with you facing your bully and his/her friends you need a break. Butterflies in your stomach as you enter at the gates. Drive down the picturesque scenery – you are finally here! Then, catastrophe! As your dad parks the car who would you see getting out of their car? Charmaine (your own name) – your bully!” Write a short film on this premise using as many of the allocated locations as possible. In the end your film must have a positive solution to the bully situation.
Also part of this road show will be the screening of the a for mentioned films, three different films (in English and in Afrikaans) that will aim to further impact parents and children alike. Posters and the “Anti-bully Kit” Pencil Case will be made available to parents so as to reiterate the main points of the campaign. (More about merchandising later). Posters that portray the main points that was discussed with the school visit will continue to remind the pupils on what was discussed with the road show.
Every child in South Africa will get a 16 page informative booklet (in English and in Afrikaans) that they can discuss in class, on the play ground as well as at home. The cost of these high quality booklets will come from the schools’ local businesses or even national businesses that will buy ad space in the booklet that will ultimately carry the cost of printing. This can even generate income to cover schools with a lower LSM.
The added advantage of the road trip and televised coverage is that other schools will hear of the campaign and will then aim to get involved in the project themselves. An interactive web site as well as app will also form part of this campaign.
The main purpose of the campaign, that will generate funds as well as draw investors, will ultimately be to empower the powerless. If you can help children understand their situation and show that they are not alone, it will help, If you can further give them ultimate understanding of their bully situations and even solutions on how they can overcome their bully situation, be it through teaching or testimonies, they will have options of what to do and who to speak with.
Never before must a child commit suicide on our beat! We are the society in which they lived and did what they did, so in essence we failed them!
Our solution approach
To change the Bully culture in South Africa a concerted effort is needed. No one thinks it will happen to their children but when it does they want to blame the schools and the teachers, anybody but themselves. Headmasters and deputy principles ends up dealing with problems 80% of their time and when incidents of bullying takes up so much of this time they can often down play a bully incident due to their knowledge of the pupils involved. This then brings about that many bully incidents are down played or often gets overlooked.
The other effect that arises with the bullying problem is that the victims often do not speak up. One because they do not want to be branded as snitches, two because they might get bullied because of an incident that they were at fault or three they know that the teachers favor the bullies and will not listen to them.
By providing understanding that is aided by the visuals of the existing films and the television and social media campaign discussions will happen more frequently. Students will have a reference that they can use to speak to their teachers and parents with.
If the victim of bullying understand why they are a target – a “soft target” – they can take heart because with our approach they will know exactly what they can do to not be a soft target anymore. They will firstly know their rights, who to speak with not to mention the ability to speak with when referencing to films and case studies that will form part of the campaign.
Know your bully:
If the victim of Bullying can understand that their bullies have got a background, a history, a motive and even a personality as do they. Our approach will empower practically to not be victims anymore but survivors.