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Verishima Unokyoh, a 200 level student of Babcock University, recently committed suicide and one is left wondering what would make a 19-year-old boy kill himself. The mother came out later to say her son was manipulated to kill himself and this obviously suggests bullying leading to frustration.

Name calling, cruel taunts, cyber bullying and physical bullying happen every day in schools. When your child falls victim, here are major steps to stop it:

Listen to them: Listening is a communication tool skill every parent must possess. Being a good listener is an important piece of your role when your child is being bullied. One of the best questions you can ask your child is, “What can I do to be helpful?” When your child tells you what’s going on at school, as much as it hurts to listen, be open and able to hear what he has to say. Try to be supportive but neutral when he’s talking. When you react too strongly to what your child is saying, he might stop talking because he’s afraid he’s going to upset you.

Don’t Blame Them: Try as much as possible not to heap blame on your child. Don’t put the responsibility for the bullying on him or her. There is no good reason or excuse for what’s happening. Never blame your child because it makes him anxious and reduces what he’s going to tell you. Your goal is that he continues to communicate what’s going on.

Identify the bully: Most kids have been teased by a sibling or a friend at some point. It’s not usually harmful when done in a playful, friendly, and mutual way, and both kids find it funny but when teasing becomes hurtful, unkind, and constant, it crosses the line into bullying and needs to stop. Identify who exactly the bully is to be able to find a lasting solution to the constant molestation.

Don’t retaliate against the bully or his family: After identifying the bully you are tempted to retaliate. Please don’t do it! Don’t take matters into your own hands and retaliate against the bully or his family. This is where you have to set some examples for your child on how to solve problem. It’s very difficult to hear that your child is being threatened; of course you want to immediately stop the hurt but remember, retaliating won’t help your child solve the problem or feel better about himself. Instead, take a deep breath and think about what you can do to help your child handle what he’s facing.

Coach your child on how to react: Teach your child what he or she needs to know about bullies. Let your child know that the bully picked on him or her because he feels threatened by him. Bullies tend to pick on people who they can get a reaction from; they choose kids who get upset and who take the teasing to heart. They also look for kids who won’t stand up for themselves, or who they can overpower. It’s important to teach your child how to react. Teach your child how to avoid bullies at school and who to go to if they feel unsafe.

Find a teacher or administrator at your child’s school who will help: Remember, it is the school’s responsibility to stop bullying. This will provide a safe place for your child to go when being picked on. By talking to the guidance counsellor and using his pass to go to her office, it showed him that there were some solutions to the situation.

Let Your Child Speak Out: Verishima Unokyoh, who committed suicide according to reports, was a very quiet student. Don’t keep calm if you have a child like this. It’s important to make sure your child keeps talking especially when faced with the challenge of a bully. Don’t allow your child to keep quiet and keep vital information from you. Even you as a parent should not keep quiet. Speak to a guidance counsellor or a trusted teacher; it’s important that you keep them in the loop of communication about what’s going on.

 Find something your child is really good at doing: Help your child feel good about himself by finding something he can do well. Choose some activities he’s good at and reinforce it verbally. It could be sport like football, playing music instrument, etc; this boosts their self esteem and makes them believe more in their abilities.

Ronke Sanya

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