Are We Raising Bullies?

Note: I translated this Facebook post written by Noor Afidah Abu Bakar from Parent Connect Consultancy

The video of a school pupil being bullied was spreading across Facebook. Recently, we are being bombarded by videos of bullying in schools. I am worried if this trend will lead to the society being desensitized by bullying, similarly to how our society sees wrestling as something entertaining and pranking as a joke.

According to a statement made by the Deputy Minister of Education, last year alone we have 3000 bully cases in schools. It seems like bullying is fast becoming a very serious issue. We haven’t include cases outside of schools. One bully case is enough to cause worry in the society, let alone 3000.

We often focus on the school and the teachers for not punishing the bullies. We also often focus on the bullies themselves, and we want them to be in jail just to experience how it feels like being bullied by other inmates.

Sidenote: It is rather ironic that we hope that the bullies get bullied themselves.

We shouldn’t forget that the main educators of a child are the parents. In cases of bully, the parents should also be brought to the centre of the stage. A study done by University of Warwick in 2013 found that instilling problem solving skills is the best method to reduce the probability that a child becomes a bully or becomes a victim of bully.

Like I always say, problem solving skills are not for math only. Problem solving skills should be used for life problems too, not just math problems, in schools and in homes. From pre-school, children already showed the ability for problem solving. Don’t kill this natural tendency by focusing only on reading, counting, and academics up to a point where we raise zombies with no empathy.

A study done by Batsche and Knoff in 1994 found that parents to children who became bullies have low problem solving ability. Those parents would easily erupt to provocation. Children learn. Children copy.

A 30-year study found that families with bullies have these characteristics:

  1. Parents who are totally absent or less involved in their children’s daily lives.
  2. Have very few or absolutely no rules in the house to guide the behaviours of children. House rules are very important.
  3. If there are rules, they are too rigid and used to punish rather than to guide.
  4. Parents (and family) who are not involved in community activities.
  5. Parents who are divided and disorganized, and families without harmony. 
  6. Attitude and language used by parents that are unconsciously encouraging the children to become bullies.

If videos of bullying are viral again on social media, just remember that those are the possible characteristics of the family of the bully. Not only do the child needs guidance, the parents need it too in order to properly navigate the family. This is not simply an issue of caning or no caning.

Higher order thinking skills (HOTS), problem solving, decision making, rational thinking, critical thinking, and taxonomy of thinking; all of these are elements to learn about life and not just to learn how to ace the exams.

Other than that, we need to nurture our children to become individuals who stand up for their bullied friends. Don’t just become another bystander (recommended reading: the bystander effect) or worse, become a part of the people cheering the bully as we have seen in many of those viral videos.

It takes a village to raise a child.

Noor Afidah Abu Bakar
Parent Connect Consultancy

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