Africa Photo and Film Academy wants to open up conversations through the stories we tell. We want to play an important role in providing innovative solutions to challenges the youth faces. We have identified bullying especially in schools as one of serious issues affecting young people particularly those living in rural areas. We felt it was not getting enough media attention and was not mainly talked about on social media. We then decided to launch the Anti-Bullying Awareness Campaign; we hosted a workshop where we invited pupils, teachers and parents to talk about the challenges pupils face and the role that the community can play in addressing the problem.
The survivors of bullying were given a chance to tell their own stories of bullying and how it affected them. The pupils told harrowing stories of how they were physically, verbally and emotionally attacked by bullies. Some even confessed that at some point they thought of taking their own lives.
The teachers talked about how difficult it is to identify bullies because in most cases they intimidate their victims who end up not reporting them. The other problem mentioned was mainly the lack of cooperation from parents. It was said that the parents can pick up signs of bullying like if the child no longer wants go to school, appears moody or if the child has unexplained cuts, bruises and scratches. The parents admitted they needed to play a greater role in the this and they expressed shock and disappointment in the stories they heard.
That why we strongly believe that involving the whole community in bullying prevention ensures that not only the learners in schools but also the parents, teachers and the larger community should work together toward shared goals of tackling the bulling behavior. If not dealt with effectively, it can have long-term negative consequences on health and wellbeing of many pupils especially learners. It is therefore clear that we need to work in this issue that affecting our rural youth. It was agreed that there should be an ongoing discussion between all stakeholders.
We have created a screenplay for a film that will raise awareness about bullying. The film will be screened in local schools and public halls where we aim to create a dialogue within communities and ask for their opinions on what they have learnt about bullying through a film. We hope that this intervention and ongoing discussions will eventually end the culture of silence and impunity around bullying.