NWU students part of SA council launched to stop bullying, body shaming

Four communication studies students from North-West University’s (NWU’s) Mahikeng Campus have been inaugurated as part of what will ultimately become South Africa’s first-ever 22-member Youth Online Safety Council (YOSC).

The students are Bokamoso Shame, Faith Monaisa, Itumeleng Mohwasa and Ester Kgaje.

The inaugural event was held at the University of Limpopo on 21 and 22 September, and follows a series of engagements at historically disadvantaged universities, commencing at the NWU’s Mahikeng Campus.

The Film and Publications Board initiated the engagements with students to highlight a number of online harms such as bullying and body shaming, stemming from young people’s activities while using online platforms.

According to various reports, a frightening number of students from higher education institutions countrywide have been the victims of online abuse, including bullying, harassment and revenge pornography, often leading to depression and in extreme cases, suicide.

According to Dr Mashilo Boloka, interim CEO of the Film and Publications Board, the YOSC emanates from his organisation’s realisation that young people are the biggest users of online platforms and have high exposure to certain risks associated with being online.

Speak up about abuse

“We thought we should give the youth a voice within the Film and Publications Board so that they can inform us, share their experiences and advise how we can develop programmes that safeguard them against abuse,” says Dr Boloka, adding that participating young people could serve as ambassadors for online safety.

In addition, the board aims to strengthen its relationship with universities, including the NWU, with a view to developing research areas that will enrich the country’s knowledge of online harms.

The NWU has already submitted a memorandum of understanding in this regard, the details of which will be made public in due course.

The Film and Publications Board has meanwhile committed itself to training and capacitating members of the YOSC. Thereafter, they will be expected to work in communities around the country to spread the message of the harms inherent to online platforms. YOSC members will also focus on the benefits of these platforms, including its use in teaching and learning

Submitted on Fri, 09/30/2022 - 13:04