Forum: Fight against bullying begins at home

Posed photo of a boy raising a chair over another boy.
Posed photo of a boy raising a chair over another boy.PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore had the third-highest rate of bullying in the world (Republic 'has third-highest rate of bullying globally', Aug 20, 2017).

Although we have one of the most successful education systems, with students consistently topping the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's Programme for International Student Assessment tests, mental health shouldn't be the price students have to pay for this prestige.

Almost every day, I come across at least five Facebook posts related to the problem of bullying, the gravity of the issue, why it must be stopped, or sometimes even an article sharing tips on how to ensure your child doesn't get bullied at school.

Sadly, although the authors of these posts claim to be raising awareness about bullying, they do little to nothing to curb this trend.

The best approach is to prevent bullying from even taking root.

In a study conducted by anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label in November last year, high rates of bullying were linked to households with high stress and trauma exposure, aggressive behaviours, lower self-esteem, difficult relationships, and past experiences of bullying.

Basically, if children are exposed to healthy, friendly, and caring environments, then this issue would never even arise.

Parents should make some work-related sacrifices and devote more time to developing a solid relationship with their children, and shielding them from stress-inducing concerns, such as divorces and fights.

Moreover, since the child often mimics his parents' behaviour, they should also practise being gentler to each other.

Another interesting influence is whether the child has been bullied in the past. Hence, by teaching the child to be more open with his parents regarding undesirable incidents with other children, appropriate action could be taken before the child becomes a bully himself.

Prevention is a whole lot better than cure.

Advik Sivasamy

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2019, with the headline 'Fight against bullying begins at home'. Print Edition | Subscribe