Monday, 14 October 2019

Bullying – Part 2 – Warning signs that your child might get bullied

Bullying – Part 2 – Warning signs that your child might get bullied
Written by: Yolandi Singleton
October 2019

It is always unpleasant to think about the possibility that your child might get bullied. It is an unfortunate reality that many kids are confronted with, especially having to face embarrassment when the bullying gets broadcasted on social media these days.

Children who get bullied often suffer severe emotional trauma especially when they feel lonely and perceiving that they can not tell anyone about it – therefore facing the issue on their own. A positive relationship with your child, including honest and open communication with them is therefore of cardinal importance so that they will be assured of your commitment and dedication towards them. I can not overemphasize the significance of your consistency in this regard.  Believe it or not, when your child really feels cared for and nurtured and perceives their parent to be entirely available to them at any time, they are much less likely to get bullied.

In the same breath, we can never predict children’s behavior. Your child might get bullied for various reasons, but it is mostly due to the person who bullies being jealous of the child who they bully or recognizing low self-esteem and therefore an easy target to control. In other words, children with good self-esteem are less likely to get bullied. Some children who bully other children are often bullied themselves or witness violent behavior in their homes or in the communities they are from and therefore normalize such behavior, especially if they are not guided by their families about socially appropriate behavior or effective conflict resolution.

Before I start listing some signs to look out for that indicates that a child might get bullied, it is important to bear in mind that some children never show any signs. Therefore, once again, it is important to ensure and commit to maintaining an open relationship with your child. If it means that you need to apologize to your child for often being unavailable to them in the past, do it. Do whatever you can to restore the communication so that your child will open up to you when they need you, such as when getting bullied.

The following signs are common indicators that a child possibly gets bullied or at risk to get bullied (remember that some of these signs could also indicate something else might be wrong):

  • Having injuries, but refuse to talk about them or even lie about it
  • Having dirty and torn clothes and also refuse to discuss it
  • Having regular excuses not wanting to go to school – even fake illnesses
  • Psychosomatic symptoms such as nausea, headaches or stomach aches
  • Complain about not having friends and sitting alone during break time
  • Express feeling afraid to walk alone around on the school grounds
  • Showing unexplained aggressive behavior towards family members or other children smaller than them
  • Sudden change in mood and behavior – showing more emotional vulnerability
  • Isolating themselves on a regular basis
  • Withdrawing from activities they used to like
  • Often feeling tired – which could mean that the child struggles to sleep or get nightmares
  • Express suicide thoughts, especially if some of the abovementioned signs are also present (remember that bullying alone will not cause children wanting to commit suicide, but rather in conjunction with other social or emotional challenges. Children who are from difficult home circumstances, including parental fights, domestic violence, dealing with a significant loss, lack of parental support, feeling lonely or being abused or neglected and then also getting bullied are much more likely to develop feelings of depression and suicidal thoughts.
Allow me to encourage you that when your child gets bullied, there are people willing to assist and support you and your child. Therefore, monitor your child and rather report any concerns to a professional until you feel you received the applicable help.
In my next article, I will cover some steps you can take when being confronted with a child getting bullied…

Be aware… until next time. 

Friday, 4 October 2019

Bullying – Part 1 – What is it exactly?

Author: Yolandi Singleton (Supervisor: Assessments and Therapy Unit)

It is safe to say that most parents are sick and tired of being confronted with the reality of bullying at schools and in communities. The thing is, many parents get bullied at work as well and it would then make it hard to really think rationally about it when their own children are involved – whether their children are the one who bullies or gets bullied.

Many conversations, discussions, and meetings have been held globally to discuss bullying as a social phenomenon and it barely looks like much has changed if we look at what gets broadcast on social media on such a regular basis, including videos where children get badly assaulted or even killed by fellow learners. In America, it has somehow gone so far that learners get shot at schools, leaving the whole country to scratch their heads, trying to strategize what they will do and how to prevent this from happening.  In our country, it is not that different. There is however not a quick fix for this issue.

What always strikes my attention when we conduct specialised socio-emotional assessments on children from various age groups and come across information where the child discloses being bullied or being the one who bullies other children, is that most of the time both parties have quite a sad background, including some past trauma like loss, domestic violence, regular verbal arguments between parents that frightens the child that they will end of getting divorced and then when parents actually get divorced, amongst other things as well. 

In my articles to come, the reasons for children practicing bullying behaviour, signs to look out for that could indicate that your child might get bullied, what you can do if you find out your child gets bullied and how to try to prevent this, will be discussed.

In a nutshell, bullying can be described as a repetitive and deliberate act to harm another with the unconscious attempt to gain control and dominate.

Types of bullying:

Physical – aggressive act towards another such as punching, kicking, slapping, pinching, throwing an object towards another etc.
Emotional – to humiliate another, exclusion, intimidation and threatening
Verbal – swearing and using degrading or discriminating words towards another
Cyber – making use of social media to verbally and/ or emotionally attack or humiliate someone – the attempt here is to degrade someone in a large crowd or to scare and degrade someone specific through direct individual text messages or to threaten someone to expose inappropriate or sexually explicit photos of them

To incite people against someone specific with the intention to cause the other person to feel isolated or to spread gossip with the intention to turn others against someone.
It is important to never underestimate the impact of bullying on a child and to be attentive to the possible signs that could indicate a red flag that a child gets bullied. I will therefore cover all the signs of bullying in my next article.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Leaving the circle of care – what now?

Children in the community, who are at risk in terms of neglect, abuse, and orphaned as a result of death of the primary caregiver to name only a few matters, are placed in places of alternative safe care.  These places include foster care families and child and youth care centres (CYCC).  At Child Welfare Tshwane we have one CYCC namely Bramley CYCC, in Groenkloof, Pretoria.  We house 49 children in this CYCC but have a few hundred children under the care of Child Welfare Tshwane who were placed in foster care families as well.

During the time the children are in the care of Child Welfare Tshwane we take care of their needs in terms of schooling, health and recreational needs.  We ensure that they have clothes that fit, get balanced meals and remain in good physical and emotional health.  We provide accommodation and assistance to solve most of the questions and challenges they face.

And then, once a child finishes with school, they are no longer regarded as in need of care and have to leave the care facility. The question then often arises:  What now? Child Welfare Tshwane embarked on a programme called WINGS in 2016, aimed at preparing these youths for the day they have to take responsibility for themselves.

With the kind financial support of the Beeld Kinderfonds we are able to see that they understand basic budgeting, have a bank account, have identity documents and at least a learner’s licence.  We help them to attend leadership camps and do career path development assessments with them.  We teach them about rental agreements for accommodation (and what to be aware of), how to cook basic meals and even to put in seams and sew on buttons! 

We start preparing them at the age of 12 already, so that by that they time leave our care they are hopefully in a good position to cope with life outside the care facility. We see that the reality is often a shock:  no one to make the doctor’s appointment or to wash my clothes!  And through WINGS we try to help them make the transition with ease.

Our programme is mostly run by volunteers who take the boys and girls in group sessions and work through aspects of interest and concern to the children.  There is a set curriculum, but without making it too formal we work with the children in weekly sessions.  We also get big names like Hector the motivator, Elmarie Pretorius, Silindile Makhatini, Anja van Beek and others involved with the children during this process.

Every year Child Welfare Tshwane joins the Beeld campaign to sell tickets for the competition run by the Kinderfonds.  This is also our way to contribute to a fund we find so much value in and with the help of every one buying a ticket we can help another child on the road to independent living. It is amazing how your R50 contribution can have a permanent impact on the life of a young adult.

To learn more about WINGS or to support the campaign by buying a Beeld tickets, please contact Marketing at or  The competition closes on 30 October and funds raised will be used in 2020.