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Viral video calls for more attention to children

Thursday September 19 2019

By ABIGAIL ARUNGA
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There is a video of a child reacting to being bullied by his classmate that is doing rounds on social media. He calls the alleged bully all manner of names and uses Love and Hip Hop type phrases because this little girl called him gay.

I personally could not watch the video to the very end. Obviously it seemed contrived – this kid is using words he sees on television, and introductions from a classic YouTube channel to put his point across, somehow. But using adult words doesn’t make him an adult at all – not in any sense of the word. This kid is acting in a fashion that he deems to be cool, or appropriate, to the point that even after the furore was caused from the video, his apology doesn’t necessarily sound like something he meant. The whole thing is disturbing.

Then there is the bigger problem that the video points to that no one seems to be paying attention to – the fact that bullying can push someone so far as to threaten to kill someone else in their classroom, which, I suppose, is how these American shootings happen? At the end of the video, this child says that he’s coming for his classmate, and will shoot her in the face.

Mocked 'weaker' kids

I know kids can be pretty horrible to each other – I’ve been a kid. I remember all too well being bullied by people larger or cooler than me, and I remember the levels of desperation I felt in trying to get away from these bullies, by any means necessary. I remember feeling like teachers wouldn’t help – and indeed, in many instances, they mocked the ‘weaker’ kids for tattling to the administration, which I can tell you for free did not encourage a whistle-blowing attitude. If I had had access to a gun or a knife – or a mobile phone to air my grievances – I can’t say that I wouldn’t have done the same thing. Being a minor is hard enough without victimisation from parents, teachers and peers – as you know if you’ve been reading the papers about the little girl who committed suicide because her teacher made fun of her period.

That’s how these suicides happen. That’s how these videos happen. A kid is pushed so close to the edge that the only way they see out is extreme measures - like these ones: using adult language to talk about things they don’t understand. Killing themselves because they genuinely don’t see a way out of the misery. They never think it is possible that high school or primary school will ever end. They think the torture and the shame is forever.

Our responsibility

We, parents, the aunts and uncles, the adults know that it ends. We know that life isn’t so bad after that. We know that it is all too easy to imagine that life remains contained within the four walls of a playground, or classroom, or dorm. And it is our responsibility to remind them of this. Not only is it our responsibility to stop this bullying craze that continues in sycophantic fashion when we finally (hopefully) get into a working environment – but we are also the ones to tell them that it will be ok, that it is surmountable. We are the ones to give them those tools to overcome the battles we cannot fight for them when we cannot be there. We are the ones to move them if they’re miserable – not every childhood has to be godawful, filled with pain and suffering to supposedly build character. It builds trauma instead, which is how Kenyans are operating currently, and look where we are…

We are the ones to regulate their phones and perhaps not watch all reality television with them – even if we know they know the cuss words. Sure, a few videos will be banned but parenting; real parenting, is supposed to be done by the parents, not your television set - parents who are involved, who listen, who are present, who brought the children to this earth. Otherwise what’s the point then?

Twitter: @AbigailArunga