school-bullying-and-suicide

It came as quite a shock to me to hear on the local radio station that a 14 year child at my old primary school here in Cape Town South Africa had committed suicide, with the cause being reported that he was being bullied by his teachers.

“The boy, who committed suicide at his home last week, was apparently being bullied by teachers who allegedly labelled him as stupid because he was a slow learner.” – Read Here.

I left that school decades ago but my memories are of a very normal school with a “special class” for children who had learning difficulties perhaps as a consequence of various illnesses or inherited mental deficiencies.

As a child the thought of suicide never occurred to me, but then I was a “normal” child, good at sports and learning, with a large circle of friends.

In related radio interviews it also emerged that: 57% of children feel that they are being bullied at school in some way… children are now using cellphones and that cyber bullying is growing immensely and teachers are not coping. They are not even trained to deal with cyber bullying or physical bullying. – Dee Boehner, founder of Kidz2kidz – Read Here

This seemed to be confirmed by the incoming phone calls of parents who had had similar issues at local schools, even those with children in schools with excellent academic reputations. One mother related how her daughter in her mid-twenties is still trying to deal with the humiliation and deep unresolved psychological issues from being bullied in junior school.

Television also seems perhaps unwittingly to confirm this behaviour in writing in characters like the super-popular girl who dictates the membership of her “posse” based on things like wealth, looks and boyfriends. The girl or boy with a physical postural problem either genetic or through illness seems to be open game for many socially dominant children and now, as the report stated, cell phones, social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are sophisticated tools to make the bullied child’s life a nightmare.

Current research is indicating that: “Your personality has been sculpted by many hands. Your genes, your friends, the schools you attended, plus many other factors, will all have played a part in making you the person you are today. But when exactly did your own distinct character first begin to take shape? If you’re a shy person now, for instance, does that mean you were a shy child?

In all likelihood, yes. In fact, research suggests there are significant links between our behavioural tendencies when we’re just a few months old and our later personality. That isn’t to say that our personality was set in stone that early, but that the roots of who we are can be traced all the way back to our earliest days.” – Read Here

So it would seem that some children may not have the inherent ability to stand up for themselves in situations where they are being belittled, or when being used as the scapegoat to deflect from the inadequacies of their peers.

The “shy child” so often seems to be the obvious victim of the archetypal bully, who, him/herself, may well be the victim of abuse at home and seeks out the weaker child on whom to vent his/her frustrations and emotional inadequacies, turning it into a perversion of his/her own confused and frustrated lack of natural emotional affection.

So there is even more reason to check bullying and elitism in schools; the insecure child of today being made to look like a “loser”, academically, physically and socially may well become the suicide of tomorrow, leaving a distraught and broken family behind, nursing wounds like guilt and depression, blaming themselves for not being “better parents”.

And training of teachers also seems, at least here in South Africa, to require an entirely new skills training: basic interpersonal skills and the psychology of emotional aggression..

Robert de Vos;

Daily Zen.

Author Bio – Robert de Vos: teacher and practitioner of Iyengar-style yoga for some 35 years and Sifu (instructor) of Yang T’ai Chi. A member of the Inner School of the Sufi Movement in the West for many years, he is the author of eBook “Living in the Here and Now – a guide to walking the mystic path” and creator of www.mymoodkit.com 

1 Comment

  • Just a few days ago and a couple of weeks after writing my article here, I read this: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37505349

    “Two stories about two French girls who killed themselves after being bullied at school have prompted an emotional response and intense debate about how teenagers can be better protected.
    Emilie, 17, took her life in January and a graphic account of the torment she suffered emerged this week when her diary appeared in a newspaper.
    It was immediately followed by a French TV dramatisation of the story of Marion Fraisse, who died three years ago. The France 3 film was poignantly entitled Marion, 13 ans pour toujours – Marion, Forever 13.
    The question for France is whether their deaths will help change the way bullying is tackled.”

    Sadly, it seems that very little has changed and that meaness at schools is as prevalent as ever before. Is it our own inadequacies and perhaps learned home behaviour which entrenches these patterns of abuse?

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