Bullied boy’s mother responds to her critics

2014-06-03 00:00

WHEN is disrespectful behaviour towards another acceptable?

When is violence towards another (child or adult) acceptable? Never! I vividly recall the day Matthew went for his interview. I left the principal’s office feeling content that I made the right decision to send my son there.

We chatted excitedly on the way back home. Matthew was on the brink of a new life — new friends to be made, things to be learnt, etc, etc. He couldn’t contain his excitement and after the new school uniform was bought, he tried it on, strutting around proudly regardless of the fact that school was only opening a few weeks later.

The first couple of times he came home he regaled his boarding school experience with stars in his eyes. He had us in stitches of laughter singing their song, animatedly sharing the things that were being done to the Grade 8s in the name of initiation. It was so much fun and I wished I could have been an unobserved spectator.

Even though I missed not having my delightful son at home, I was once again comforted by the realisation that I did the right thing. Matthew clearly belonged and marvelled at being part of the group.

However, the excitement progressively disappeared, making place for a quiet, withdrawn boy. When being questioned about his demeanour, his reply was that he was just tired as he had to get up very early in the mornings to polish his matric’s shoes, make his coffee, etc.

I accepted his explanation, yet couldn’t ignore the feelings of uneasiness. I attributed his behaviour to, amongst others, being away from home, missing his pets, family and friends. I would never have been able to guess the horrid truth.

I have been following all the comments made via social media, as well as online news pages. It is heartwarming to see how Matthew’s story has touched so many.

The overwhelming support gives me hope that there might be a chance to win the battle against bullying.

Sadly, there is another side to this coin. My heart goes out to the children raised in the homes of those ridiculing Matthew’s ordeal, some even going as far as suggesting that he grows a pair … I can only imagine how those parents would react should a child of theirs approach them for help when being bullied!

Don’t they believe that it is never acceptable to treat a child in a way that makes him/her feel uncomfortable, violated or threatened?

As adults it is our responsibility to take children seriously when they report abuse of any form. Yes, children might embellish, but the core of abuse remains and has to be addressed. As parents it is our responsibility to raise children responsibly and in a manner fit to contribute to a progressive society.

Ignoring their cries for help, diminishing their trauma WILL reduce their emotional development.

I believe the biggest bully of all time, Adolf Hitler, might have had a totally different life experience had he grown up in a loving home, never been the victim of violence perpetrated against him as a child.

Adults condoning violence to children should consider the impact their attitudes have on young people in the process of forming character … Will we find ourselves here again in a few years’ time, or can we come together and eradicate the despicable act of bullying?

We owe it to our children to do everything in our power to achieve this goal.

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