With her annual Chauncey’s Epic Anti Bullying hike, of which the 2018 edition took place this weekend, Beverley Davids from Mitchell’s Plain wants break the taboo around bullying: Davids’ son was bullied for years, suffering emotionally and physically. Like the past three years, The Hikers Network helped her organize the hike which drew 122 people!
Bullying may be often seen as something that is part of growing up, studies have shown its long-term harmful effects. According to Childline, bullying is one of the top three reasons young people contact them for help and the South African Drug and Anxiety Group (Sadag) says that bullying may lead to suicide.
Davids is no stranger to this. Her son Chauncey was in Grade 7 when the bullying started. His tormentors went beyond teasing. “They sometimes beat him up so badly we had to go to the doctor. This was over and above the emotional trauma,” she says, noting that getting help was impossible. “We knocked on every door. I watched in pain as he suffered and all the doors were shut in front of us. That is why I took him out of school.”
Things improved when Chauncey was in high school but tragedy struck on 29 May 2014 when he died in an experiment gone horribly wrong. “He used a plastic container, a bottle of deodorant and a cigarette lighter, an experiment he had seen at school. It resulted in an explosion, killing him.”
To keep her son’s memory alive and give purpose to his short existence, Davids set up the Chauncey’s Epic Anti Bullying Club. With limited resources, the NPO is visiting schools, orphanages, churches and youth camps in Cape Town and Durban to raise awareness, protect those who are suffering, and help institutions deal with bullying once and for all.
The club also started organising annual hikes on Table Mountain for survivors, their families, and supporters. This year’s event took place last week Saturday, and drew over 120 hikers from all walks of life.
Anwaaz Bent, president of The Hikers Network, says supporting the initiative is a no-brainer. “We, adults, have the responsibility to protect our children from harm and to ensure our sons and daughters don’t join the bullying camp. This is where education and awareness come in,” he says.
He adds that the hike made a stance against bullying in general, in school and the workplace, but also on the mountain. “As hikers, we will not be bullied by criminals on the trail,” he said.
For photos, please see our Facebook page!