This week it's Anti-Bullying Week: a week focused on raising awareness about bullying and working to prevent it. Whether it is verbal, physical, online or in-person, bullying has a significant impact on a child’s life well into adulthood – with this being a global issue.
Just like here in the UK, bullying is an issue within developing countries, but is often an issue that can often be overlooked in terms of development. However, COCO works to prevent bullying in schools across East Africa. COCO has a responsibility to ensure that all of the children under our care throughout our various partner schools are safe, and we feel that this can be contributed to by a zero tolerance to bullying.
Bullying is a diverse issue that can be carried out in many ways, as well as having various negative impacts for the victims. Globally, bullying has been linked to a variety of negative child well-being outcomes that often persist into adulthood, such as:
Poorer educational results
Mental health problems such as symptoms of anxiety and depression, suicide ideation and self-harm
Violent behaviour (UNICEF, 2018)
A key way in which COCO works to prevent bullying is through the Sport and Recreation element of our schools for life programmes. Recreation provides opportunity for great friendship to grow and encourages social interaction, while team sports and competition promote motivation and enthusiasm.
The UN promotes sport in schools to improve health, teach important life lessons about respect, leadership and cooperation and promote equality for all by bridging divides between people. COCO encourages this through events such as football matches! (United Nations, 2019)
Another element that COCO promotes in schools that helps to prevent bullying is school councils. School councils help to mitigate against issues arising in the first place but also boost children’s confidence and empower them to be able to tell school management about any problems that they’re facing. From this, the schools and children are able to work together towards solutions to overcome such issues.
Additionally, COCO provides training to partner coordinators at schools in Safeguarding and Child Protection. This allows reporting processes to be implemented within the schools and ensures that children know how they are able to speak up and seek advice. For example, the Gender Empowerment Coordinator specifically helps female students: providing the opportunity for 1-2-1 sessions for girls to speak about their issues confidentially and seek support.
Schools for Life offer children the opportunity to enjoy sport and recreational activities in positive environments, producing healthy and happy well-rounded children with confidence and skills both inside and outside the classroom!
UNICEF (2018) 'Bullying: A Global Challenges Requires a Global Measure'. Available at: https://www.unicef-irc.org/article/1867-bullying-a-global-challenge-requires-a-global-measure.html (accessed: 07/11/2019)
United Nations (2019) 'International Day of Sport for Development and Peace'. Available at: https://www.un.org/en/events/sportday/ (accessed: 07/11/2019)