WhatsApp Bullies causes girl’s suicide in Pretoria

WhatsApp BULLIES Responsible for SUICIDE of Thirteen Year Old School Girl

A 13-year-old learner of a school in the North of Pretoria committed suicide today after she was allegedly bullied by friends on WhatsApp groups since last week.

The learner allegedly distributed an image, and this was forwarded on WhatsApp groups. It is alleged that other learners teased the girl about the image.

Colleen Strauss, Chief Executive Officer of the Sinoville Crisis Centre (SCC) said the girl was extremely traumatised by the alleged bullying. She spoke to teachers to get assistance and reported her school mates.

The girl was afraid to go to school and her mother went to see the principal to discuss her concerns. Her mother found her body at home later the morning.

According to Strauss counsellors of the Centre were immediately deployed at the school to comfort the learners and the parents.
The Department of Education also assisted the learners and their parents and has already started with an investigation into the allegations leading up to the suicide.

“This heart-breaking incident is a wake-up call to everyone working with children. Children experience emotions much more severe and can be very impulsive. They don’t have the knowledge to realise in the spur of the moment that everything will be ok tomorrow.”

Strauss caution that children complaining about being bullied should never be ignored. They should be referred to an adult who is trained to help them to cope with the situation or who will act against the bullies. “This incident could have been prevented. There is always help. Suicide is not the solution.”

According to Strauss bully behaviour and sarcastic remarks are common amongst children of all ages in schools and is not only limited to physical violence.

“Typical bully behaviour would be for girls to spread “gossip” or false rumours about a friend in a peer group. It is also not unusual for girls to target boys. Especially children who are soft spoken and shy are targeted.

“Research has indicated that girls start with bully behaviour in Gr. 4 and Gr 5 and this emerge again during puberty in Gr. 8 and Gr. 9 when they have increased hormone activity,” she said.

She asked parents and teachers to be mindful of warning signs such as changes in eating and sleeping patterns, nightmares, headaches or stomach pain, irritable, moodiness or isolation from daily activities.

In Massachusetts in the USA, Michelle Carter was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for persuading her boyfriend to kill himself in 2014. She was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after a judge determined that her texts to Conrad Roy III persuaded him to kill himself.

By: SONJA CARSTENS | Twitter: @JJBdMedia

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