A bullying incident during February is believed to be at the centre of what has led to a 13-year-old Doornpoort Primary School pupil in Pretoria committing suicide.
This heart-breaking incident was once again a wake-up call to every parent. It may seem like an isolated case, but it’s not.
With ages 9-14 considered as the “bullying years”, we as parents may think that with primary school out of the way it will be plain sailing from here on… apparently not. It turns out that one in four teens are being bullied. Considering that we have 2,2 million school-going children in South Africa, those percentages translate into a truly staggering number of youngsters!
High school is a time when the demands of the curriculum go up a notch and social awareness of each other increases. Also, bodies change at different rates, and differences and similarities become more obvious. The so-called “fitting in” part is never easy.
Thing is, bullying is no longer limited to schoolyards or playgrounds. Kids, especially teens, are connected to technology 24/7, which means they are susceptible to victimisation constantly. Cyberbullying is often an extension of bullying that is already happening at school. Emotional, verbal, or cyberbullying can lead to depression (and even suicide), drug use and stunted social development.
So, how do we as parents help our kids to negotiate one of the most frightening aspects of school life? Psychologists agree that one of the best ways to protect your teen against bullying is to give him the tools to deal effectively with bullies.
Here are a few tips to share with your child:
Buddy up. Bullies are reluctant to go after someone who has backup. There is strength in numbers!
Do your part. Ask him why he’s bullying you. Ask him what the problem is and ask him to stop. Bullies are rarely asked to face the reality that they are bullies, so make them face it.
Control your feelings. Never show fear. A lot of what bullies do is for reaction; they will soon get bored and move on.
Keep calm and carry on. Ignore hurtful remarks, tell him to stop, and walk away. Demonstrate that he has no control over you. A person who isn’t easily ruffled has a better chance of staying off a bully’s radar.
Boost your confidence. Exercise will get those feel good endorphins going as well as reduce stress levels. Take a kick boxing class to get rid of the anger.
Stay true to yourself. Celebrate your unique qualities, reflect on them daily. The more empowered you are the more you can help yourself.
Report the bullying. Bullies can’t bully for long if they are being caught. This starts with an authority figure. If it happens at school, talk to a teacher, counsellor or the principal.
Remember, a child’s complaints about being bullied should never be ignored. If you feel that the situation is getting out of hand, or if you feel that your child is in any physical or psychological danger, it is time to intervene.
So, Mom and Dad, pain is a tough place to recover from. Part of parenting is to make sure that your home is a safe place where your kids can unburden their hearts.
Source: www.bullyingstatistics.org, www.wikihow.com, kidshealth.org, www1.cbn.com, www.tutordoctor.com, www.smh.com.au, www.childmag.co.za, www.scielo.org.za, www.myaspergerchild.com, www.helpguide.org, www.nea.org, www.surfnetparents.com, www.huffingtonpost.com, www.news24.com, www.psychologytoday.com, www.iol.co.za
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.