Culture Spotlight

Should you show your kid the bully video?

In the wake of three widely-circulated videos involving a junior high school bully from the Ateneo de Manila University, and three of his victims, a parent and psychiatrist asks herself how to explain bullying to children.
Ann Princess Grana-Nespral, MD, DPBP, FPPA | Dec 22 2018

As I watched with my husband, an educator, the now viral video of an adolescent taunting and hitting another adolescent, my 10-year-old son came in the room and saw what we were watching. He asked what the video was about, and while watching for a few seconds, he said "Oh, it's bullying. I remember that being done to me, except it was mental, not physical." He stopped watching the video and stepped out of the room.

As we talked to him to process, we asked why he didn't want to watch the video, he said he felt uncomfortable and didn't want to be reminded of the incident. When asked if other kids should watch the video, he made a face, and said no. When asked why, he said that "other kids may copy it, or be afraid for the rest of their lives."

We may all have been bullied, or have bullied someone at one point in our lives. It may not have felt like bullying, up until we have looked back in our youth, but these experiences have molded us one way or another. For our kids, who are still in their formative years, it is a different story. Theirs is a world with social media, where every little thing can be scrutinised and shown to the world. They get information that otherwise would have been unavailable during our time.

A lot of things have been said about the now-viral video, and I will not add to that. But as a parent, should you let your child watch the video? We must at all costs avoid showing graphic content to children, and should be present to process and discuss if they have been exposed to such content.

We need to avoid making secondary victims of the child and adolescent viewers. Traumatization occurs when a person feels threatened for theirs or their family's safety, and viewing the video only propagates secondary traumatization. The parents will think, what if this happens to my kids, and the kids will think, what if this happens to me, and this fear will have an impact on how they view the school and school-related activities.

If for some reason, your child has watched the video or has asked you about the video, please try to stay calm and manage your emotions, as your emotions will be mirrored by your child. Mob mentality will not help. Ask if they have any questions about the video, how do they feel, what are they thinking? You may explain that there are a lot of things we still do not know about the video, but one thing is for certain, that was unacceptable behaviour. Now is the time to discuss proper social behaviour with your child. How to be kind, how to respond if bullied, how to respond if a bystander to a bullying incident, and how not to be a bully.

Ann Princess Grana-Nespral, MD, DPBP, FPPA is a Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatrist at the Butuan Doctor's Hospital.