At first his mom tried to outwit the bullies at his school. Allan* was the smallest boy in the Grade 2 class and they regularly grabbed his lunchbox from him. So she decided to pack his lunch into several packets – only to find them untouched in his bag when he came home.
“When I confronted him he told me that during breaks he climbed into a big tree just to get away from the bullies and stayed there the entire time,” Anne* says.
She realised she had to do something and reported the matter to the school. In doing so she joined a tiny minority as international research shows that in only four per cent of school bullying cases does someone intervene.
Research also shows that in 11 per cent of cases kids fight back. Most disturbing however is that the remaining 85 per cent of bullies carry on undeterred, says Dr Crystal Watson of the MTR Smit children’s home in Port Elizabeth.
More than 70 per cent of children worldwide are bullied on the school playground at some stage and it can have tragic, even fatal consequences.
In 2011 more than 40 bullying-related suicides were reported among primary and high school children in South Africa.
*Not their real names.
In a three-part series of articles YOU’s Haidee Muller looks at the causes of bullying and what can be done about it. Read more in YOU 6 September 2012.