By Amina Alhassan

“My neighbour’s child bullies my son and deprives him of his toys or the opportunity to play with certain toys. He forcefully takes my son’s bicycle from him to ride and even beats him when he refuses to give him. I was furious and had to tell his mother to discourage her son from being a bully.  How can we curb bullying amongst children?”

Bullying is something children experience among their peers in school which can be traumatizing. Every child has the tendency to be a bully and the odds are higher when they see their parents bullying others to get their way.

Rukayat Bashir, 38-year-old entrepreneur, says “As parents, we should let our children live within our means. If my son wants a bicycle, then I will try to get one for him and if I cannot afford it, I don’t think I will allow him go around bullying children whose parents can afford it. We need to teach our children that bullying is never the way to go. It is totally wrong.”

Rukayat’s sister however has a different view. Laila Bashir, 35-year-old lawyer, opines that though teaching a child not to share his things will mean teaching him to be stingy; “Some parents find it hard to instil discipline in their children and in the end encourage them to be bullies. Some argue that it’s not about being a bully but about trying to be independent and not allowing anyone take them for granted. I’ll advice parents especially mothers to discourage children from being bullies, there are better ways for children to learn to be independent and courageous.”

Fatima Bilal, 39-year-old accountant, poses a question to all parents, “What joy does a parent derive from seeing her/his child bullying other children? For me, I see young children who are bullies growing up to be thugs. If you can’t curb their excesses now, how can we as parents curb it when they become adults? We can’t and they automatically become thugs or touts for politicians. One can only be a tout or a thug if they are experts in bullying. Any parent who doesn’t want his/her child to become what they see on the streets these days should take quick action in making sure that they curb the bullying tendencies in their children.”

While speaking with Daily Trust, Mercy Anthony, 33-year-old teacher, is of the opinion that parents are largely responsible for children becoming bullies. “As parents, we have failed in several ways, such that our actions and inactions now have negative effects on our children. We leave the upkeep and training of our children to maids, who in turn are always harsh towards our kids. Most times, the kids see us being harsh towards the maid, so the cycle continues and he grows up thinking being harsh and a bully is the norm. 

Secondly, the over exposure of our children to media violence, we forget that what they see sticks to their minds and they tend to want to act out in reality what they see on television. Another big fault of parents is that we use our own tongues to run down our children. Some parents never commend their children when they do well but are quick to criticize them when they do wrong and they don’t just stop at critising them but also compare them with other children and nag about it till another mistake comes along. 

Comparing children does a lot of damage which in turn turns to hatred and is translated in bullying the supposed good child. No child learns bullying from outside the home; it all starts from within the home. The sooner we curb it, the better.”

It can be disturbing to learn that your child has gotten into trouble for picking on others or has been labelled a bully. Whether the bullying is physical or verbal, if it’s not stopped it can lead to more aggressive antisocial behaviours. To help curb it, let your child know that bullying is unacceptable and that there will be serious consequences at home, school, and in the community if it continues.

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