Is your child a bully? Learn how to spot the signs

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On September 12, a family’s life changed forever when 15-year-old Moyeni Walters was shot and killed. His crime? Standing up to his two bullies, who are 14 and 15 years old.

The incident took place at Warwick Avenue in Durban, when the two offenders allegedly shot Moyeni in the abdomen. While he was rushed to the hospital, he later succumbed to his wounds. As his family deals with shock, one needs to wonder could Moyeni’s death been avoided.

There are several articles on how to identify if your child is a victim of bullies. Yet, can you tell if your child is the offender? Is your child wreaking havoc on another child’s life?

While no parent wants to admit their child is a bully, one needs to face the reality that their child isn’t the angel they imagine. Especially as the two teenagers who are involved in Moyeni’s death are now facing murder charges.

According to the South African College of Applied Psychology, as many as 57% of South African learners have experienced bullying in their high school careers. With approximately 2.2 million school-going children in the country, this is a staggering figure.

To ensure your child does not follow in the steps of the bullies accused of murder, here are some signs that your child is a bully:

Your child makes fun of other children

While making fun of others is a part of growing up, have you noticed your child frequently making fun of others and focusing on differences to pick on? Have you noticed your child encouraging others to join in on their ridicule? Does your child often label or call other children names?

It is important to take notice of this type of behaviour, as this behaviour can escalate to devastating results.

Your child constantly gets into trouble at school

Bullies often have issues with listening to authority and find it difficult to build friendships, which are two reasons they are most likely to get into trouble.

According to Bruce Cameron, a licensed counsellor and former federal prison therapist in the United States, who works with bullies, claims a child may be a bully if they are unable to submit to authority and cannot form meaningful relationships with their respective peers.

Mayra Mendez, Ph.D., LMFT, a licensed psychotherapist and program coordinator for intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health services at the Providence Saint John’s Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica, California, suggests there are a few more reasons why bullies have a hard time behaving in school.

Mendez explains the child will have difficulty when he or she does not get what they want or when they are not identified as the best. When looking at behavioural changes, Mendez says bullies often display impulsivity and thoughtless behaviour.

You child tries to justify bad behaviour

Bullies often try to shift the blame to their victim. Jay Clark, a licensed professional counsellor in La Crosse, Wisconsin, says a form of behaviour which tends to connect with bullying is when a child fails to recognise their actions are possibly contributing to a problem. Emotions may escalate in intensity in a child with bullying tendencies, to such an extent that they feel justified in treating another child badly. They even feel the other child deserves it.

Your child acts aggressively towards his or her siblings

If you have more than one child and one of your children acts aggressively towards their siblings, there is a chance your child might be a bully at school as well.

If your child displays any of these signs, act immediately and you could possibly save a family from suffering the loss the Moyeni family experienced, seeing your child face criminal charges in the death of another.

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