Bullied boy’s desperate plea for help

An Eastridge boy, 10, who was being bullied at school, tried to commit suicide.

An Eastridge mother has spoken out about bullying after her 10-year-old son hanged himself from a curtain rail.

The woman told Plainsman she believes her son tried to commit suicide because he was being bullied at school.

She said she knew of three instances of bullying by three different boys, one of whom had verbally bullied her son, and the other two, physically.

“On Saturday May 28 my son tried to commit suicide. He got a rope and tied it around his neck and the curtain railing. My sister and my daughter thought he was playing but saw him turn red and they ran to his rescue at once,” the mother told the Plainsman.

On Monday May 30 she went to the Mitchell’s Plain school to report the bullying. The identity of all concerned, as well as the name of the school are being withheld to protect the young boy’s identity.

“I reported it to the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and I received a reference number. My son’s father went to the WCED Cape Town office and got another reference number,” the mom said.

“Children should not sort out these issues, the parents should get involved immediately,” she added.

The boy, 10, said one of his bullies had been “hitting me since the beginning of the term”.

“At night he was different, I could see something wasn’t right,” said his mother. “The teacher tried to sort it out. Some of the pupils came to me to explain what happened. I asked my son why he didn’t tell them that the boy was bullying him,” she said.

The mother confirmed that the WCED, school social worker and psychologist had already been to see them – but they want more assistance.

The school did not wish to comment, but WCED spokesperson Unathi Booi said the parents had reported the matter at the WCED Safe Schools client services.

The District Safe Schools team has met with both the parents and the pupils involved, she said, and measures had been put in place to address the issue.

There are numerous anti-bullying campaigns at both district and school level, Ms Booi said.

“For example, anti-bullying conferences or anti-bullying weeks where there is advocacy and education on cyber-bullying, for example, and practical steps pupils can take to protect themselves from falling prey to bullying,” she said.

She added that parents and pupils should first report such abuse to their teachers and school management so that they were aware of the allegations and could address them as soon as possible.

Public schools are also required to draw up and publish a policy on the use of social media and encourage pupils and employees to act responsibly and be aware of the consequences associated with the use of social media.

If pupils’ behaviour is inconsistent with the Code of Conduct for pupils then disciplinary action could be taken against them.

Clinical pastoral therapist Joanita Ragette said bullying had a huge impact on a child’s emotional, physical, and social well-being.

It can cause tremendous stress, anxiety, and fear over the child, she said, “thus, the boy attempted suicide because it feels like an immediate option”.

“In a situation such as this it is important for the mother to show her son support. The mother can seek help from a play therapist in her area to help her son talk through his emotions and how it makes him feel to be bullied at school.

“We should not stay silent about bullying, encourage your child to talk about it. Together bullying can be eliminated from schools if we work together,” said Ms Ragette.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) offers a 24-hour helpline: 0800 12 13 14 as well as a suicide emergency number: 0800 567 567. Pupils and/or parents can use these numbers if they feel that the child needs immediate assistance (often after school hours).