Bullying is lethal my friends

Dear Bloggers, 

We hear and see the national news reports regarding bullying in schools, neighborhoods and communities. It's nothing new, the pundits promise action, and we feel a bit better that the problem is being addressed. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

The latest casualty? Anass Aouragh , a 13-year-old boy from Wassenaar. Teased relentlessly, his mentor, says there is now an empty space at school. What are the reasons for the perpetual taunting? His small size, his high IQ  there are no reasons given yet. Was he not able to deal with the verbal assaults and the sticks and paper dots that were thrown at him, or was it when they started making fun of him? Somewhere he reached the breaking point.

His parents, were worried about their son when he did not return home from an after school job bringing around advertising leaflets. Worry turned into frantic and desperate fear, and soon they organized a search party. The police send out an Amber Alert. Hours later, in the morning they found him, in the woods of Wassenaar. The image of the scene and their tortured agony is almost too much to bear. 
When are schools going to get it? Teaching the 3 R’s, reading, writing and arithmetic, is not enough. 

Tolerance, respect and common decency need to be addressed along with the basics, because unfortunately, this is often not taught at home. And not only that, teachers, principals and administrators need to be constantly in touch and vigilant about what's going on in the classroom and on the playground.
Bullying is a problem that is not going to go away on its own. How many more deaths have to occur before schools take this problem seriously and responsibly? 

Fleur Bloemen was another victim of what we never can understand. One of the kids said after she died: She never spoke about what she was going through.
This is very often the case. These kids are ashamed, embarrassed, shy, even afraid to speak up, which is why all school personnel must keep their ears and eyes open and be prepared to intervene. This is why all parents have to talk to their children about how to treat others, and must know what their kids are doing and who they're doing it with. It's called parenting.

This is not an isolated problem -- Fleur is just one of the latest examples. Last month it was Fleur, a  high school student, who took her own life with jumping in front of train. No longer able to withstand the taunting from a group at school, she permanently ended the verbal assaults the only way she knew how. The reason for the harassment? She was wished dead by fellow students and was taunted on prepschool. Again, this fun-loving youngster kept it all inside, not wanting to upset his family by the derogatory comments. And now she jumped and some of her fellow students saw it happen. 

Tim Ribberink, died 4 months ago in an apparent suicide. Authorities suspect the bullying he endured at school and at work played a role.Tim Ribberink....... was trying to escape the cruelty from his being a happy guy who was taunted being gay. After being punched, kicked and yelled at, he was victimized on social networks when his body was found at home his parents published a part of his farewll note in the advert in the local newspaper. The persons held responsible for this cannot be held responsible for this henious crime.

However, it is setting a precedent that the schools do have liability.
As I mention in 5 very important lessons from tragic bullying deaths, (1) Those struggling with their sexuality need to realize there are sources in every community to help; these kids are often targets (2) Parents must speak out. You must talk to your child about bullying and let them know it is wrong. Also, you must ask them often if they or anyone they know is being bullied. If so, you must report it immediately; (3) Teachers, administrators and school personnel have a duty to stop bullying on school grounds. There must be a zero tolerance policy. (4) Parents must teach their children acceptance and tolerance of others that are different, and that we all have gifts to share to make the world a better place. (5) Not only must bullies be held accountable -- their parents should be, as well.

Schools in the Netherlands are being offered the Kiva Method from Finland. KiVa is a research-based antibullying program that has been developed in the University of Turku, Finland, with funding from the Ministry of Education and Culture. The effectiveness of KiVa has been shown in a large randomized controlled trial. In Finland, KiVa is a sought-after program: 90 % of all comprehensive schools in the country are registered KiVa schools implementing the program.

KiVa has been evaluated in a large randomized controlled trial including 117 intervention schools and 117 control schools. The program has been shown to reduce both self- and peer-reported bullying and victimization significantly. It influences multiple form of victimization, including verbal, physical, and cyberbullying. In addition, positive effects on school liking, academic motivation and achievement have been reported. KiVa also reduces anxiety and depression and has a positive impact on students’ perception of their peer climate. A remarkable 98% of victims involved in discussions with the schools’ KiVa teams felt that their situation improved. Finally, Finnish data from more than 1000 schools that started the implementation of KiVa in fall 2009 showed that after the first year of implementation, both victimization and bullying had reduced significantly

It's too late to bring back any of these precious children, but hopefully their deaths will bring about change. If you can take one thing away, let it be this: Talk to your children. Listen to your children. If you do this, no telling what you'll learn. Talk, talk, talk, and keep those lines of communication open. Is someone bullying them? Are they bullying someone? And finally, do they know someone who is being bullied? Ask often and listen carefully.

All of them could have been alive today. Always remember that you can make a difference.

The Old Sailor,


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