Stop bullies at school
The Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University is one of the CHE-accredited university campuses that offers the four-year degree in Social Work. During this four-year degree lecturers attempt to prepare students for the realities of practical work, but also to reinvest in the community.
In the module Advanced Social Group Work: Theory and Practice, third-year students focus on group work as a method of social intervention. Social work involves five methods, namely case work, group work, community work, management/administration, and research.
Usually, students have to present their own group-work programme (e.g. life skills, foster-parent programmes, etc.) at a welfare organisation to fulfil the practical work requirement for this module. This year the lecturer for this module, Ms Yolinda Steyn, decided that the students had to present something meaningful with respect to group work somewhere in the community. With this in mind, Ms Steyn developed an anti-bullying programme in collaboration with Dr Anri Adlem.
The students received this programme together with a manual, and during the second semester the COP anti-bullying programme, as it was dubbed by the students, was presented for the first time to 116 Grade 6 learners at the Park Ridge Primary School. COP is an acronym for consideration, opportunity and participation.
The principal of the Park Ridge Primary School, Dr Wendy Butterbee, is a former PhD student of the Vaal Triangle Campus. She obtained her doctorate in 2014, and her dissertation dealt with cyber bullying and the school’s legal obligation in this regard.
For six weeks, the students met their groups every Monday and worked on a poster that constituted part of a competition between the groups. In the seventh week, the posters of the different groups were assessed by the three lecturers of the Social Work Department at the Vaal Triangle Campus to select the winners of the competition. The posters were assessed with reference to the learners’ knowledge (after completion of the group sessions) of the different forms of bullying, and the learners’ cooperation and creativity in creating the poster. The learners had to present their poster and explain what the different elements were and what the poster demonstrated.
The prizes awarded to the winning groups were not too bad either. The winners of the first prize played putt-putt at the Emerald Casino in Vanderbijlpark, the second prize was a hamburger and a milkshake at the Wimpy, and the third prize was a pencil box for each team member.
“The feedback from Dr Batterbee was very positive, as was the feedback from our students. The assessment of the posters and the verbal feedback from the learners also pointed to the success of the project. We are very excited about our project. This was our pilot attempt. Our agreement with Dr Batterbee is that next year’s third years will present the programme to the Grade 7 learners – therefore the same group as this year. This will help us to assess the success of our programme,” Yolinda said.