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Want to Talk About Bullying with Your Child? Here’s a Good Place to Start

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Ntando Mahlangu, teen Paralympic medalist.

I was having a conversation with some moms the other day and at some point, we got talking about bullying.

One of the moms talked of how she discovered her son was bullied. Apparently, whenever he would get back home from school, he would literally fly out of the car and make a mad dash for the bathroom. While there, she would hear him release a bucketful of pee. It’s as though he had been storing his pee all day long.

Which was actually the case.

Turns out that her son would avoid going to the bathroom while in school because that’s where he would be bullied by two notorious boys. Every time he would go to relieve himself in the toilet, the two boys would follow him there and torment him. You see, as with most toilets, there is only one entry and one exit, so he had basically nowhere to run once inside. So, to avoid going to the toilet –and consequently avoid being harassed by the two boys, her son would hold in his pee all day long until he got home in the evening. An act which by the way, could have caused the boy serious health issues. Imagine that. And the more I’ve been asking around about bullying, the more I’ve been hearing that a lot of bullying goes on inside boys’ toilets. Hmm.

Another mom also shared how her niece, aged 13 years, one time learnt of rumors circulating about her in the school. Mean, hurtful words –mainly about her body. The girl had already developed breasts, expanded hips, started her menses and was battling acne. The rumors had been started by a clique of girls in her class. When she learnt about what they were saying, the girl completely refused to go to school, demanding that she be transferred to another one. She was too humiliated to return.

These two incidents are not isolated, for we’ve all heard about bullying incidents among children (and even among adults too). Which makes me ask: as parents with young children, how much are we aware about bullying incidents at school? As parents who would do anything for our children, is it possible for us to fully protect them from being bullied? Also, how would you tell if your child were being bullied –especially if they didn’t tell you? And what would you do if you found out your child was being bullied? In this social media era by the way, do you know that children are also bullied -a lot? It’s called cyber bullying.

Then, if your child comes up to you and asks: “What Can I Do If I’m Being Bullied?” what would you tell them? You can check some of these responses, which include telling your child to maintain his cool and not get angry, that they should tell someone about the incident, and that they should try document the incidents of bullying. The pieces of advice are shared by the Cartoon Network’s “Be a Buddy, Not a Bully” Campaign.

An example of a youngster who knows all too well what bullying feels like is Ntando Mahlangu, a Paralympic medalist, was bullied in school. Due to his physical handicap, Ntando says that the kids around him never stopped making it clear that he was ‘different’ from them. Ntando was thankfully, able to rise above the unfortunate incidents, enough to become an athlete of great repute.

Today, Ntando is the brand ambassador for the “Be a Buddy, Not a Bully Campaign” by the Cartoon Network -the leading children’s television channel, and which is available across Africa. The campaign aims to raise awareness around bullying, and let African children know that they are capable of being be confident enough to take action against any form of bullying. Cartoon Network has teamed up with ChildLine in Kenya to promote this campaign.

Related: I’m different, and Kids Used to Make Sure I Knew it

Today, you can have a conversation with your child about bullying. I’ve shared a couple of videos in this blog post -watch them together with your kids. Ask them what they know about bullying, and if it’s ever happened to them. Ask them how they felt and what they did about it. Also ask if they know of a friend who is being bullied, and how they feel about it. You’ll be surprised at the insights they’ll give you.

You can also follow the conversations via: @CNAfrica, #CNBuddyNetwork, #ChildLineKenya and the campaign’s official website.

Mummy Tales is a blog dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of maternal and newborn health, as well as various issues surrounding motherhood and women. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms hereFollow Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l INSTAGRAM l TWITTER 

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