- As parent what should you be asking your pre-school?
Bullying is a pressing issue that affects children of all ages, even at the pre-school level. As South Africa celebrates National Children’s Day on November 4, 2023, it is crucial to acknowledge that children have the right to be protected from bullying.
Ursula Assis, Country Director, Dibber International Pre-schools, comments.
The Reality of Bullying in Pre-School
“Bullying is not confined to older children; it can manifest as early as in pre-school,” says Assis. A reality confirmed in South African Author – Marion Scher’s – recently launched book ‘Big Bully’.
“The adverse effects of bullying, such as self-image issues, depression, anxiety, and school problems, can be significant even when experienced at a young age. This underscores the importance of addressing bullying at the pre-school level.
“With this in mind, when speaking to a possible school for your child, ask the following questions – as the potential of bullying at this level is a reality – and you need to ensure that the school takes it seriously,” adds Assis.
What is the school’s policy regarding bullying, how do they actively prevent it and how will staff handle a reported incident?
- Parents should seek information on the school’s official stance on bullying and understand their preventive strategies. Ask about programmes or initiatives aimed at creating a respectful and inclusive environment for all children. The answers you receive must be very clear, direct and based on an official school policy.
How do staff members participate in fostering a positive social and emotional environment?
- Parents should ask about staff involvement in children’s social and emotional development, not just academic achievements. Staff actively engaging in children’s play and daily life create a more inclusive and empathetic atmosphere.
“We maintain a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, exclusion, and all forms of discrimination. We believe in actively preventing these issues through our Heart Culture and the daily interactions in our pre-schools and understand that fostering social competence, friendship, and a positive psychosocial learning environment is vital to reducing the risk of bullying.
“Additionally, our staff is trained to pay attention to signs of bullying, report any concerns, investigate issues thoroughly, and take appropriate measures to address bullying and create a safe space for children.
“Bullying prevention starts at an early age, and it is the shared responsibility of educators, parents, and the community. This National Children’s Day, we must acknowledge this to ensure that children in our care enjoy a safe and nurturing environment, free from the harmful effects of bullying,” concludes Assis.