Devastated dad shares the 7th most dangerous myth about bullies

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"We brought the bullying under the attention of the school and teachers, but we were told the problem lies with our son."  Photo: Getty Image
"We brought the bullying under the attention of the school and teachers, but we were told the problem lies with our son." Photo: Getty Image

As South Africa faces what seems to be a growing crisis of school bullying, Parent24 shared six dangerous myths about school bullying.

In response, this father, who asked to remain anonymous, shared his heartbreaking story, and what he says is the 7th most dangerous myth about bullies. 

Read his story here:

"There is a common belief that someone becomes a bully because they are bullied at home, or elsewhere, and it is a means of revenge. Whilst this may be true in certain or many instances, my personal experience was far from it.

My experience was that children also become bullies because they believe they are superior to other children, because of the status of their parents, their wealth or position in the society.

This is my story.

We were a normal middle-class family, my wife is a police officer. I also served ten years in the police, but later ventured into other sectors of the economy and became self-employed.

We had two children who both excelled at school academically as well as on other terrains. My son was very small for his age. When he was five years old he wanted to play rugby, or as it was called "rammetjie rugby".

WATCH | Local experts unpack the issue of school bullying 

Due to his size, I agreed but on condition that he also takes up amateur wrestling. It is common knowledge that wrestling develops the body in many ways and it becomes second nature for wrestlers to protect themselves from injury by making or avoiding contact in specific ways to protect them from injury.

The skills he learned from wrestling later assisted him to become a good rugby player. The bigger players would underestimate him and try and run over him, but in most instances they didn't succeed and came off second best.

During trials and practices, the bigger players told him to stop tackling them because he makes them look weak. He was extremely competitive in nature and needless to say it just motivated him more to do his best on the rugby field. This resulted in him being bullied.

Share your stories and questions with us via email at Anonymous contributions are welcome. 

Most of these bigger players were from affluent families, some of their parents were teachers and some were the main sponsors of the rugby teams. We brought the bullying to the attention of the school and teachers, but we were told the problem lies with our son.

In many instances, we were told that the children implicated will never bully someone because they come from good families. We gradually withdrew him from school sport and he concentrated on his wrestling.

The bullying did not stop.

Must read: Is your child being bullied at school? Here's how to check 

He later won 19 South African Wrestling Titles. He also represented South Africa twice at the African Wrestling Championships and won gold on both occasions.

During his last two years of school, he decided that he wanted to participate more in school sport and he represented his school in first team cricket, hockey and occasionally rugby.

The bullying by the same group of children became worse during that period. Despite passing Grade 12 with several distinctions including maths, he could never excel at varsity.

He was later diagnosed with several mental health conditions, including anxiety and borderline personality disorders, and the day after he turned 22 he tragically ended his life.

We are still trying to cope with it all, my wife and daughter still receive counselling, but no words can describe the loss or the feeling that we should have tried harder."

Read: Don't be the parent or teacher who believes these 6 dangerous myths about school bullying   

If you or someone you know is being bullied, or is at risk of suicide, reach out to SADAG or call:

Suicide Crisis Line: 0800 567 567

SADAG Mental Health Line: 011 234 4837

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