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Students who are bullied often feel threatened and powerless. Bullying is a widespread problem that can affect a child’s mental and emotional health- and the aggressive behaviour characterised by a power imbalance with the intent to cause harm. Case in point, a 17-year-old, Emily*, a grade 11 student from Mphalaleni Secondary who gained the courage to stand up to her bully after being bullied for 6 years by the same person.

Emily was bullied since from grade 6 by her classmate. Her bully used to take her lunch money and beat her at school every day. Her life during this period was filled with pain and anger as she blamed herself for not being able to stand up to the bully who was terrorising her. Emily never told her parents or school teachers about the boy who used to bully her at school because all she ever wanted was to go to secondary school to escape the bully. Unfortunately, when she went on to study her grade 8 in Mphalaleni secondary, the bully ended up in the same school and the very same class as her.

Upon hearing about the SeViSSa Girls Club, a programme which aims to tackle sexual violence, discrimination and inequality against girls in South African schools from her teacher, Emily was interested in joining. Sharing her experience since joining the girls club, Emily said “I remember my first meeting attending the girls club at my school I was shy, and the girls understood, they were so kind they treated me like a sister and helped to build my confidence”.

The SeViSSa programme seeks to tackle sexual violence, discrimination and inequality against girls in both primary and secondary schools in South Africa, with the aim to equip girls with leadership and self-esteem tools so they can change their futures for the better.

*Name change to protect the identity of the participant.