Are parents and teachers the biggest enablers of the bullying culture in schools?

The standard response to a child who is being bullied is to stand up to the bully in their lives. If you live in Kenya your mother may ask you: “What were you doing as the bullies were on your case? Were your hands tied?” She would want to know and many children actually try their best to stand up to a bully.

But what is a child to do when faced more than one bullies? What if it is a whole group? What if it is incessant? What if they feel not heard by authorities and just decides to do the unthinkable and take away their lives?

It may seem unbelievable, but there are more children and adolescents actually contemplating suicide as a result of bullying.

Basically, bullying refers to repeated oppression, either physical or psychological, of a less powerful person by a more powerful person or group. The power imbalance between the perpetrator and the victim is the cause of ill treatment of the victim.

Bullying takes various forms such as teasing, taunting, threatening, hitting and stealing of property belonging to the victim, or causing a student to be socially isolated through intentional exclusion.

According a recent research by the African Mental Health Foundation, students in Kenyan secondary schools are experiencing higher levels of bullying than the international trend, a development researchers warn may hurt individual performance and self-esteem.

Of the 1,012 students who were interviewed in 17 public secondary schools in Nairobi last year, between 63 per cent and 82 per cent said they suffered one form or another of bullying.

Majority of them (82 percent) said they had their belongings taken away by those in the same class or senior classes. Those in forms one and two and who were boarders, complained of being beaten and having their belongings taken

With such numbers, some parents are still in denial and this was seen last week when a school in Nairobi was accused on popular Facebook platform Buyer Beware Original,  of turning a blind eye as a student was bullied which led to an alleged suicide attempt. The post from the parent read,

Good afternoon parents,

I’m a very sad parent as I write this and would like the PTA representing us to bring this issue of bullying to the table tomorrow and find affirmative actions and punitive measure of dealing with the so called mean girls.

My daughter was a victim last term and it flew her off the track badly. Sadly as this may sound, I realized even after raising my concern with the proper team, nothing was done and a repeat happened beginning of this week. My daughter couldn’t take it anymore and she decided to overdose herself apparently with some pills she picked from the nurses office.

I rushed to school and we had a lengthy talk with Ms. Sheba and a parent friend in the presence of my daughter and she highlighted a few things about the bullying.

To say the least I was in distress and didnt believe that such actions are condoned in an institution such as Nova. I’m wondering how many girls are suffering silently in the hands of the few mean girls and what exactly is the school doing to curb such unwarranted behavior. As i speak, my daughter is home.

Issues of bullying have been there and sometimes the joke can stretch a bit far and permanently harm the victim to an extent of having suicidal thoughts because they feel they are not wanted or appreciated. Today, my daughter’s incident speaks on behalf of hundreds of other innocent girls…I will not keep silent until something is done, I will not go mute until I see a better and healthy institution where the girls and even the boys are according the dignity they deserve as human beings.


Before they could even seek to establish more, a section of parents had already started defending the school. Are these the kind of parents that you can tell their child is bullying someone and get a helpful response? Will they be willing to talk to their child and admonish them on wrongful actions? Are we fixated on non-issues while the mental health of our children is deteriorating?

Paul Musila My daughter is in Nova. Please cross check your information before posting.. This is someone’s business.. and building a business is not easy my friend. Just because some people are not happy with the sudden success of the school doesn’t mean you get dragged into economic wars

Caroline Kinyanjui Really? The school looks solid. I am taking this with a pinch of salt.

Caroline Wambui Jackson Njeru have you been paid to spoil the name of a very good school? How comes this has not been reported officially if it’s happening?
You need to be very careful sometimes. That’s all for now

Through its principal Christopher Khaemba, the response from the school read,


Dear Parents,

We thank you for your continuous engagement and belief in the Nova Pioneer vision of developing the next generation of innovators and leaders who will shape the future.

At Nova Pioneer, our relationships with families are of the utmost importance, and we believe strongly in transparent, open, and timely communication. As such, we wanted to include you in a recent email that was sent to our Nova Pioneer families in relation to a post on Buyer Beware – Kenya (ORIGINAL)with claims of a bullying incident in our Girls High School.

In the age of social media, the possibility of outsiders spreading misinformation about our school and our students is, unfortunately, a reality. It is important that as a community, we are all informed and aligned as we continue to build a healthy environment to nurture and support our students.

We wish to confirm that when concerns are raised, we take them extremely seriously and respond immediately in accordance with our policies. As such, we wanted to share our response pertaining to this matter with you. Our first duty as educators is to the safety and well-being of the children in our care and we will never let anyone or anything jeopardize that vital duty.

Zero tolerance on bullying incidents at Nova Pioneer
As many of you are aware, we have a zero tolerance policy against bullying; physical and emotional bullying is absolutely forbidden at Nova Pioneer. Our firm stance on bullying falls within our overall robust Child Protection Policy which sets our rules and regulations for the safety of all children in our care. Whenever any issues have arisen, we have taken swift action to engage with families whose children have participated in bullying and have expelled students where there is evidence that they were involved. We have highly trained school counselors at all of our schools to enable students to safely raise any issues they may encounter in the school or in the world.

As the matter is being handled it is good as parents to first hear and not jump to conclusions whenever there is a case of bullying as we might just end up saving a life. If your child is bullying someone , you should also take charge to stop them and not cover them especially under the name of the institution.

Educator and friendship expert Dana Kerford says that there are a few signs parents can look out for that may indicate your child is bullying.

“Your child might be engaging in mean-on-purpose behaviour within their social domain if they are not being invited to birthday parties or play dates, or if they demonstrate exclusive behaviour and/or have very few friends,” says Kerford, who is the founder of URSTRONG.

“Other signs are if your child has misplaced confidence, putting on a mask or front to give off the ‘king of the castle’ vibe or exhibiting relational aggression or physical aggression when frustrated.”

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