Keven Reese Jr hanged himself in January after being bullied at school. His mum says she had no idea how distraught he was in the days leading to his death.
Keven Reese Jr hanged himself in January after being bullied at school. His mum says she had no idea how distraught he was in the days leading to his death.

I read a heart-breaking report of a 10-year-old’s suicide as a result of bullying. The news, like every other bullying news, sent shivers down my spine as my heart ached for the bereaved family – how did it get so bad? How did he know what to do? How could this have been prevented? Those were some of the questions running through my mind as I pondered on the story.

The world is very different from when we were growing up. A lot of things that we were shielded from, have to be discussed with our children early. There’s a need to stay on top of happenings in their life, ask questions – don’t stop asking questions.

Some parents are lucky as their children quickly tell them everything going on, but some children are more reserved and keep to themselves. It is the responsibility of the parent to look for ways of getting information out of them so as to be sure that all is well with them.

What if your child is a bully?

Bullying according to the Anti-Bullying Alliance is a repetitive behaviour that involves an imbalance of power.

Most parents don’t like to think their child is a bully, but the truth is most children at some point or other have bullied another child but some just make a habit of it.

Parents have a huge responsibility to watch their children for bullying traits, it’s not just the parents of the victims that should be cautious.

Interestingly, it’s quite easy to spot bullying traits in children as it mostly starts with teasing. A child that teases their siblings or friends or even parents relentlessly should be cautioned and steps should be taken to ensure they stop it. Teasing in itself is not bullying, but when it becomes hurtful, unkind and constant then it crosses the line into bullying and needs to stop.

Look out for aggressive or negative response to or about other children, having money or belongings that are not theirs, report from other parents or teachers about aggressive behaviour, etc. These points don’t necessarily mean a child is a bully, but they should just be checked to prevent or stop irrational behaviour.

Here are a few reasons why children might be unkind to other kids:

  • The need to fit in with a group of friends who are picking on another child.
  • Attention seeking from parents, teachers or classmates.
  • A child could be more assertive and impulsive than their peers.
  • A tendency to perceive the behaviour of others as hostile even if it is not.
  • A child is getting bullied at home or at school and is trying to regain a sense of power.
  • An inability to fully grasp how their behaviour is making the victim feel.

If you notice your child bullies their sibling or even a parent and it’s getting out of hand, you should seek help for them because chances are that they are doing worse to another child at school.

Types of bullying

Bullying can come in different forms, just as bullies also come in different forms. A bully can operate alone or as part of a group. None is more dangerous than the other as both forms can have devastating outcomes if not dealt with on time.

Bullying can be any of the following:

  • Indirect or Verbal Bullying (Teasing, name-calling, rumour spreading, etc.).
  • Direct or Physical bullying (Hitting, kicking – causing bodily harm)
  • Virtual or Cyber Bullying (threats or name-calling via social media, sharing private photos or videos etc.)

Bullying can be a combination of all the 3 forms mentioned above. None of these is better than the other as they can all result in horrible outcomes.

Effects of bullying

The results of bullying are always negative, particularly on the victim. Bullies pick on the sensitive points of their target to oppress them leaving them feeling threatened and powerless. Interestingly, it does have negative effects on the bully as well.

The target of a bully could experience any of the following:

Poor academic performance.

Feeling upset and inferior.

Self Harming.

Feeling Shut out.

Feeling Suicidal.

Parents should talk to their children about bullying from an early age. Always let your children/ward understand that NO ONE has the right to bully them. No one means exactly what it is, not a sibling, friend, school mate (junior or senior) or teacher has the right to bully them.

In as much as most schools have anti-bullying policies and try to sensitize the children about bullying and its effects, the bulk of the responsibility lies on the parents. It is the parents’ duty to ensure their child is not being bullied nor are they bullies.

If your child is being bullied, it is natural for you to want the child to fight back. Please refrain from doing so as it can escalate into violence with someone else getting injured. Instead, you can advise them to try the following:

  1. Ignore the bully as much as possible, if this does not work stand up for yourself and tell the bully off.
  2. If the above does not work, the child should report to a teacher that can be trusted. This teacher can alert other teachers to keep an eye on the situation.
  3. Tell a friend they can trust, It’s always good to have a witness if possible. Moreover, a friend can offer good moral support or together you can stand up against the bully, especially if it’s group bullying.
  4. Keep records of dates, times and instances the bullying occurred.
  5. Speak to the school counsellor about the bullying.
  6. Most importantly, children should be advised to speak to their parents first about any case of bullying.


Bullies are not monsters from outer space or red horned demons, they are normal human beings like you and me – sometimes harmless-looking children and sometimes adults. The government tries its best to make sure schools have an anti-bullying policy but as stated earlier, parents have a huge role to play in putting an end to bullying.

Parents should do all they can to raise confident children. This will make it difficult for anyone to bully them, and if it happens they’re confident enough to ask for help if they can’t cope.

Tips for raising confident children include:

  • Love your child/ren.
  • Always give praise where it is due.
  • Model self-love and positive self-talk.
  • Teach resilience.
  • Encourage sports and other physical activities.
  • Do not draw comparisons between children.
  • Don’t offer insincere praise.
  • Let them help, give them chores to do.
  • Encourage curiosity, let them figure things out themselves.
  • Don’t make exceptions for them.
  • Be a good role model.

The truth is for parents of bullies, it is never pleasant to realise your child is bullying someone else’s child but it is essential you act fast. Rather than being in denial take actions to curb it. Make your child understand their actions are hurtful and harmful and they need to apologise and stop it.

Parents should also watch themselves and the way they respond to situations as most children behave like their parents. If you’re a bully, your child will very likely be a bully too.

Whatever the cause of bullying, a parent should talk to their child about it so as to understand their point of view. Communication is key in curbing bullying. A parent also has to monitor the situation, check your child’s online activity and watch how they talk to people.

Bullying is not easy both for the parent of the target as well as the bully. It is imperative that we stay connected to our children, listen to them, get involved with their life as much as possible and most importantly show kindness and respect to people. They are likely to pick those traits.

You should be more watchful if your child has a weight problem (over-weight or skinny) or is very shy as bullies pick on weight, religion, race or even social standing. 

Unfortunately, health conditions are not left out as was the case with 10-year-old Seven bridges who took his own life after being repeatedly bullied at school for wearing a colostomy bag because of a bowel condition. There was another case of 9-year-old Maddison Whittsett who hanged herself because she was being bullied. She had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and was occasionally bullied at school, with friends calling her”stupid” and “dumb”.

It’s alarming the number of child suicide – due to bullying – I read about while writing this post. I’m sure most of the families involved would never have thought it could happen to them. That is why it is important to monitor your child’s well-being. Even if you have to change classes or even schools – please do not delay.

Please don’t shy away from seeking help for your child if it’s getting out of hand.

Aunty Lulu.



One thought on “Let’s Talk Bullying – The Dreaded Monster.

  1. insightful discussion into bullying … So horrified to read of children suicide … this piece will certainly improve my awareness … thank you

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