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Parents of bullies are failures
Published on: Monday, July 03, 2017

By A doctor
MY heart breaks whenever I hear stories of young children being bullied in school simply for being different, and the story of T. Nhaveen brought me to tears.

But incidents of bullying are no longer uncommon. While I was attached to the child psychiatry unit of a government hospital last year, I saw numerous children coming in suffering from mental health issues after surviving terrible bullying. From being taunted to being beaten and having chewing gum put in their hair, the list goes on.

But what irked me most was when one parent told me the incident was normal and that “boys will be boys”.

When asked if she had spoken to the school about it, she laughed and said no.

Having been a victim of bullying myself in my youth, I was extremely disappointed and angry that this young defenceless person was stuck in such circumstances.

In my free time, I used to be a volunteer with a programme for underprivileged children and encountered similar issues with them. The children, some as young as six years old, were facing such terrible bullying but had no one to talk to. They were all forced to face the situation themselves.

Is it fair to attribute bullying to “boys being boys” and leave the children to suffer through it all on their own?

Who then would be responsible when something unfortunate happens?

We can’t expect these children to voice out their angst to the school authorities, or sometimes even to their parents, because they have been taught that showing emotions is a sign of weakness.

We tell our young boys not to cry and to man up when things happen, thus invalidating their fears.

I constantly find myself telling people that if emotions are a sign of weakness, then people should be born without them.

So these young joyful children begin taking on burdens that were never meant to be theirs in the first place.

Some will survive albeit be extremely bruised while some, unfortunately, will not make it at all.

We are all so caught up in the rat race of life that we prepare our children to achieve material success from very early on. But we fail to teach them to be decent human beings. The increasing number of hate crimes against minorities, racism and discriminatory actions seems to reflect this.

It is my humble opinion that if you fail to raise good, loving, tolerant, kind and just children, you have failed in your job as a parent. Children are born pure and without any preconceived notions.

It is parents and educators who shape their minds.

So, if you shape their minds with love and tolerance both in theory and action, you will produce a generation of children with a more humanistic point of view.

Parents and teachers alike should focus on educating young people on how to live in a world full of diversity with tolerance and compassion, and not with judgement and hate. Inculcating tolerance and compassion in children should be part of the curriculum in every school.

And if you find that your child is bullying someone, take action immediately! Sit down with your child, talk about it and find out why he/she is involved in bullying. Find out what insecurity he/she harbours that is making him/her act aggressively.

Arrange for a meeting between both parties and a mediator. Apologise and make your child take responsibility for his/her action. It is a lesson that your child will thank you for in the future. And for all you know, you may be saving a life.

Our youths must also be taught to take note of injustice and to stand up against it rather than participate either actively or passively through inaction.

Teachers also have a huge role in curbing bullying. They have to be more vigilant about what goes on in their premises and to take action when needed. Complacency on the premise of workload is just an excuse to not do anything, and that in itself is unacceptable.

If your children are being bullied, wouldn’t you want someone to stand up and protect them?

We all have to do our part to help raise a generation that is kinder and more compassionate towards one another.

Hate no longer has a place in society.

A doctor

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