The HIP Club – Help Increase the Peace – is for young people from Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg. They get together and talk about nonviolent ways of dealing with conflicts in their lives. Anyone is welcome to attend.
Who would like to tell us something about what they experienced on the way to school?
I like walking to school in the morning because it gives me a chance to meet up with my friends and chat about all kinds of things.
I like going to school; usually someone brings some music along in the bus and we all have fun.
On our bus, if there’s no music we just sing ourselves!!
That sounds like great fun! And guess what happened to me on the way to school the other day?
I saw this old man trying to cross a busy road so I asked him if I could help him. He was really grateful for this.
Well done, Christine! That was really kind and observant of you.
You know what happened to me? I was walking to school with my friend and three girls behind us made rude comments about my hair.
They asked what type of a family I came from because I don’t have conditioned hair. They said I looked so old-fashioned.
And how did that make you feel?
Well, I felt really embarrassed and angry….. but then I took a few deep breaths and decided not to say anything until I had calmed down.
Then I looked at them and said, “I feel angry when you laugh at my hair. My family cannot afford hair straighteners but actually I am happy with my hair.
Well, let’s talk about Thandi’s response….what do you all think about it?
Good for Thandi, she told them firmly – but not aggressively - how she felt.
Great that Thandi could talk about her family background without shame….usually we try to hide the fact that we don’t all come from wealthy families.
Yes! Your story shows us that assertive honesty can work well when you are humiliated, Thandi. Thanks! Does anyone have another story?
Yes…I was sitting on the taxi the other day, reading my notes for class when this guy two years ahead of me……
……came and sat right up close to me. He put his hand on my knee and said, “C’mon Sweetie, you shouldn’t be reading now…how about giving me some attention.”
How did that make you feel Lerato?
Scared and uncomfortable…. I sat there frozen until we arrived at school. Then I ran. Now I’m worried he’s going to look for me at break time.
Mmm.. a difficult situation to be in Lerato, and one that I know many girls have been in….what could Lerato have done…or still do now?
I think you should have slapped him and said loudly, “Get away from me!” That way we would all have heard and he would have been really embarrassed!
No!!! That would have made him very angry and he might look for a chance to beat you up. I think what you did was right…. keep quiet and not humiliate him.
And could Lerato do something now?
Find this guy at school when he's not with friends – somewhere safe with other people around - and tell him...
...that you felt very uncomfortable with what he did and that you don’t want it to happen again, you want respect.
Yes, I think I could say that once I’m facing him . . I just need to pluck up the courage to go up to him.
And if you do it in a respectful way – you will help the guy understand that all girls want to be treated with respect.
I had a problem on the bus too!
I sat at the back of the school bus because there was no other space. Then these two guys came and shouted at me; “Don’t you know these are our seats? Get up or we’ll fight you!” I got up, saying I didn’t want to fight. Everybody laughed at me…even the girls.
Wow Mosiwa - a very unpleasant incident for you! What can we say to Mosiwa?
I think it was great that he didn’t make a fuss about that seat. Sometimes we fight over things that really don’t matter.
I liked that Mosiwa told them he was not prepared to fight…I think that's really brave!
Ja, I didn’t want to move without saying anything, it might have looked as if I was moving because I was scared. But I wanted to say that fighting was not an option for me.
And later one of the guys came to me and said, I’m sorry for what happened, but I wasn’t brave enough to stop my friend from bullying you.
I think they saw that Mosiwa respected himself enough not to fight, so the guy respected him too. They saw real strength in you.
Well, we have learnt so much from your stories about resolving conflict, thanks! You might try some of these skills yourself next week.
Yes…and don't get discouraged if things don’t work perfectly. It takes some practice, but brings a great reward!
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