According to experts, cyber bullying is a growing trend that is becoming “a major problem”, not only in South Africa but globally.
“The danger with cyber bullying is that [in most cases] it is anonymous and the bully can create different accounts and [the victim] wouldn’t know who it’s coming from,” says child counsellor at the Saartjie Baartman centre for women and children, Zeenat Osman.
This week a video went viral on social media in which a vuilbek 16-year-old girl threatens to “escort” another girl to her grave.
The nearly two-minute long video was reportedly sent via WhatsApp to a 14-year-old meisie at Groote Schuur High School.
In the video the older teen, who records herself on her cellphone, swears and threatens the younger girl while her friends cheers on in the background.
She starts off by saying: “I’m the girl who is going to make you in your p***.
While her friends manage to stay out of sight, the teen makes references to her “styl hare”, “fleek eyebrows”, enviable “big ass” and says the “point of the video” is so the other girl can see “how sexy I am”.
She then shows her middle finger adding: “It’s gonna go in your p***. OK no, it’s gonna vrot away… smell like sardines.”
She later mentions the girl’s name saying she knows where she lives and tells her to get a lawyer and a police escort.
She ends the video with the words: “Let the police escort you home [because] if they’re not going to escort you home, I’m going to escort you to your grave.”
The teen has since posted an apology to her “victim” and appears to have deleted her Facebook account.
She posted: “I dunno what to say, I feel so ashamed omw, but I just want to say sorry about my bad language and all the things I said in the video. [sic]
“I dunno how I could ever look myself in the mirror after everything going viral… I want to give my sincere apology to the person I was talking to in the video.”
She received nearly a thousand comments on that post, mostly from mense who slammed her.
She then posted one last message, taking a swipe at her “haters”.
“OMW, everyone be judging like they don’t make mistakes, [like] they all perfect and they not.
“You guys really think your negativity is gonna get me, omw, you haters don’t phase me, just remember, if that was you I wouldn’t judge.
“Shukran for all those that are standing by me and shukran to those hating [on] me, you only making me a stronger and better person.”
Osman says children don’t realise the consequences when posting videos like these on social media.
“It is a very dangerous platform because children don’t realise the consequences.”
“With cyber bullying there is no physical harm but it is the same as any form of [physical] violence,” she says.
Last September, 17-year-old Charne Roberts hanged herself with a rope in the family bathroom, just two days after her birthday.
Charne’s mother Magdalene Roberts, who found her, said her daughter was being bullied at her school, Silverstream High in Manenberg.
Girls at her school accused the teen of having sex with another learner’s boyfriend.
The mom said she reported the matter to the school but nothing was done.
Similarly the founder of Chauncey’s Epic Anti Bullying Campaign, Beverley Davids, says her son was also a victim.
Chauncey was targeted in 2012 when he was in Grade 7.
Beverley says he was beaten so badly, “he could barely speak. The side of his mouth was open.”
“I went to the principal and nothing happened,” she says.
Chauncey died in 2014 after a science experiment at home went wrong, and he blew himself up.
While Chancey’s death was unrelated to the bullying, Beverley is using her son’s experience to raise awareness.
And just last month, the mother of 11-year old Asad Khan in the UK found him hanging in his bedroom after claims he was being bullied at school.
Osman says bullying affects both the victim and the bully.
“It has a lasting effect on both parties involved,” she says.
“We need to look at what happened in a child’s life for them to resort to bullying. Children aren’t born bullies.
“There are many reasons why a child acts out, it could be psychological, the school or the home environment.
“We shouldn’t condone the behaviour, instead we must unpack the problem and put the correct behaviour in place,” she adds.
Meanwhile, the Western Cape Education Department says all the girls involved in the making of the video were suspended.
WCED spokesperson Jessica Shelver said the department had “zero tolerance to bullying”.
“There are three learners involved in the making of the video, two are learners at Groote Schuur High School and one is a learner at Lotus River Primary School,” she says.
“Counselling and support will be provided for the victim.”