Is your child a bully or a victim of a bully?

Speak your mind by Dr Guru Kistnasamy

Bullying is a common occurrence at schools. Parents may protest when their children are victims but may become defensive when their children are the bullies.

Bullying can arise from a combination of factors. The child may have learning problems, psychological disorders, is addicted to drugs or subjected to peer pressure in a ‘gang’.

The home environment can be a determinant of bullying. The child may come from a dysfunctional home where parents are themselves bullies, addicted to alcohol or drugs, and physically and verbally abusive. The child then imitates the behaviour of the adults.

A third determinant is the school. A school with poor pupil management is a breeding ground for bullies. To prevent this from happening, schools should promote a culture of learning, discipline and respect.

There must be an on-going awareness programme that clearly indicates that bullying and violence will not be tolerated. A proactive measure would be for teachers to identify bullies, monitor them closely and provide them and their families with guidance and counselling.

Strict disciplinary action against threats and violence would deter potential bullies. Bullying often occurs when the teacher is not present in the classroom or on ground duty.

There should not be unsupervised areas in the school building or grounds. This will ensure that pupils do not engage in any unacceptable behaviour.

Parents who are over-indulgent or too controlling are likely to have children who misbehave. The bullies are usually the ones who fail at school, drop out of school, and get involved with drugs and crime. Parents ought to be good role models to their children and ensure that their upbringing is sound. Giving in to the child’s demands or tantrums perpetuates misbehaviour.

Parents whose children are victims should consult with the teachers and become more involved in the schools to ensure bullying is eradicated. Victims must be taught to be assertive and report bullying. Pupils as a group should be taught to prevent bullying and not be bystanders or encourage it.

If your child is rebellious, and has no respect for authority, he needs help in the form of psychological counselling for issues such as anger management, low self-esteem, and related problems.

The community is urged to forward topics that they would like included in ‘Speak your mind’ to Nikita Chiniah on

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