On February 21 this year, the world met little Quaden Bayles. The 9-year-old was mercilessly bullied because of his dwarfism. It was so bad he wanted to kill himself. His mother, Yarraka Bayles recorded his sorrowing despair and posted the heartbreaking video online. The Scourge Of Ages Photo Credit: The Sun The world over people rallied to his side, offering comfort and support, moved by his pain. Quaden is not alone. Thousands of others suffer the same fate in hidden silence. Some resort to suicide. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 800,000 people commit suicide each year, some as young as 10 years old. Racked With Pain Bullying is cruel. It brings out the worst in human beings and reverberates deep into the very fabric of society. While everyone is clued on to its devastating effects and much has been done to curb its spread, it still occurs with frightening regularity, spreading its pervasive influence the world over, moving silently under the radar of supervision. While bullies range in ages, it's the young aggressors who shock us most. Victims of such aggressors can be hounded for any reason, no matter how trifle. The torture can last for years especially if they remain in the same environment e.g. school or neighbourhood. Bullies can be triggered by anything, age, colour, race, creed or situation in life. From playgrounds and schools, bullying has now taken hold in cyberspace where it works to harass its victims 24\/7\/365. In cyberspace, the build-up can multiply exponentially with far-reaching consequences. Facing The Spectre With bullying so pervasive and commonplace, what can we do to stop its raging surge? To start with, this post is helpful. Hold Friendships Fast Human beings are social. Kids even more so. As parents, we need to have a solid, ever-growing friendship with them, one which lasts a lifetime. The importance of being friends cannot be underestimated or overstated. The support of loving parents and a caring family envelops each child with a strong, protective layer of confidence which builds up their self-esteem. This can buffer the cutting taunts of bullies. Confident children always thrive. They love life and make wonderful friends, sometimes for life. Their stable social development helps them mature into well-balanced adults which is necessary for a good society to function. Staying The Course When kids are small, we are their only friends. What we say is absorbed en bloc. The challenge comes as they mature and their character develops. This gradual development may see them exhibit character traits vastly different from what we were used to. While this is normal, it can sometimes be unnerving for parents and may take some time for us to adapt to. Do not give up but stay the course. Your friendship is a lifeline for them should they ever be set upon by bullies. The Catharsis Of Expressing Oneself Photo Credit: Quartz India When children are maltreated, they tend to keep it to themselves. Bullying evinces feelings of worthlessness and is a blow to self-esteem. Bullies know this and will threaten their victims to silence on pain of more attacks should they let the cat out of the bag. Expressing hurt and speaking about their pain is cathartic. It heals hurt and binds up emotional wounds. It also provides the little ones with an avenue to speak of their fears and emotions and to let go of their feelings of helplessness and shame. Here are the things that you should do when your child is one of the victims: Be Neutral As a parent, it can be very difficult to stay calm, cool and collected knowing your little one has been set upon. However, it is essential that you do. Children need to open up and speak about their ordeal in their own words. Your presence is a great comfort to them. Knowing you are there to lend a shoulder and a listening ear is half the battle won. If you react strongly, it can backfire causing children to clam up in order to keep the "peace", thus inadvertently protecting their abuser. Healing may take a long time. Solutions may not be instantaneous. Persevere regardless. It means the world to your little one to have found the support he or she needs in you. Minimising The Monster Speaking about their ordeal releases the burden they have been carrying inside them and exposes the bully for what he is. The more your child expresses himself or herself, the smaller the bully appears in his or her mind. With you on his or her side the relief is palpable. Following that, the school or police can be informed, if necessary. Using The Right Words As your child speaks, you not only need to know when to speak but also what to say. Words are powerful and they can either build up or break down. While you may let your child take all the time he or she needs to give an outlet for their anger, these phrases might help them along the road to recovery. Taking It A Step Higher To report or not to report. That is the pivotal question. It is a delicate balance. For as much as we want to protect our children, we also need to teach them how to handle these situations as they are invaluable life skills on their path to maturity. The General Rule Children should learn how to handle the bully themselves. However, the way they approach this has to be tempered. When emotions run high,\u00a0 it is all too easy to fight back, eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. Unfortunately, that could exacerbate the situation. If things come to a head, where both victim and aggressor break into a fight, chaos will ensue and both stands to be equally punished. Keeping Cool Heads Teach your children to keep cool, calm and collected. This goes far into diffusing the situation. When bullies attack they expect their victims to cry. A child who meets a bully with a calm and cool look unsettles them. Returning Rudeness With Politeness Living virtues at home are invaluable. These good habits form children well. Bullies do not live in good homes. That is why they treat others badly. Being kind to a bully throws him or her off balance as they do not expect that kind of behaviour. Then, walk away. Walking away is not rude or cowardice. It signals the end of that conversation. As your child walks away, have them keep their guard up as bullies may pull the mean trick of pushing them down when their back is turned. Grouping Together Have your child make many friends. There is no limit to the friends they can have. Also, get to know their friends. Playdates and birthdays are great ways to get to know them and their parents too. Groups of friends act as a deterrent against bullies as many of them are not bold enough to take on a group of kids standing together, defending one of their own. Be Brave Enough To Run Away There comes a time when it is best to run away. Tell your children to be at peace with that. They should never be ashamed of themselves for running away. Nobody should stand in harm's way and if the bullying is ramping up, it is time to leave. Bringing In The Big Guns If your child is bullied, it is prudent to inform the school or relevant authorities so they can keep an eye on the situation. Knowing that bullying is happening does not mean that everyone should engage the aggressor. It could backfire, causing more damage than help in the end. Rather, it is always best to teach your children how to handle the situation, unless it devolves to the point that the authorities have to step in. Izzy Kalman has some good tips on this, being a specialist in this area for a number of years. When Options Have Exhausted Themselves Photo Credit: CNN.com Sometimes nothing changes, no matter what we do and the final choice lies with us to cut our losses and move on. It is a tough decision to make, no doubt, but if changing schools or neighbourhoods end the cycles of violence, perhaps that is the best way forward. This change may be our chance to start afresh and leave bad experiences and memories behind. Happy Families Happy, loving families make the best citizens. The stability of a good family provides to society cannot be overstated. However good families, grounded in love, also have their fair share of difficulties. It is only by teaching children to live the virtues, in season and out that they mature into well-rounded adults. Helping them learn how to handle difficult people and situations teaches them invaluable life skills. These life skills will aid them to become better people, which in turn makes for better societies and a clearer future.