Bullying and Discrimination in Sport

Bullying is almost becoming a national sport in most societies. This unfortunate act displayed by a minority has had dire implications for a majority of people, the world over. In the past, the act of bullying was not treated with the seriousness it deserved, only now have we seen a stronger stance being taken against bullies. The unfortunate long-term implications on the individuals at the receiving-end of these bullying acts do not receive adequate or any counseling/specialist treatment and they internalize these scares/burdens up to adulthood and beyond. Over the years we have witnessed a direct correlation between how people adjust/not adjust in society. Coupled with the aftermath of the bulling which impacted on their behaviour, actions and inability to become fully integrated into society due to physiological demons they have to deal with on their journey.

What role do parents play when it comes to preventing, managing and minimising the impact of this act on other members of society? Some parents are in denial and defensive when it is discussed with them and their child’s involvement and conduct of bullying at school. It is also possible that they themselves were and are still esteemed bullies. Bad habits are hard to relinquish. Women, people with disability and normally minority grouping in our communities are always at the receiving end when it comes to discrimination in sport.

As indicated in previous articles there is no quick-fix or overnight solution to address these age-old men-educed policies and behaviour. With the growth of the internet more people are being e-enabled and the biggest form of bullying and discrimination is in the form of cyber-bullying.

The incidents and intensity of this form of bullying is increasing like a software virus and until recently bullies were able to hide and be untraceable.

Technology today is so advanced that these bullies and web perpetrators are no longer able to be incognito. Your internet activities are leaving traceable footprints; useful for prosecution and other remedial action. Smart phones are able, advanced, personalised and available at the touch of a button to cause so much irreparable damage to cyber victims the globe over.

In some societies bulling has not been highlighted as a serious social challenge and unacceptable behaviour. Youngsters are being bullied almost daily about their appearances, social standing and domestic issues outside their control. Because this type of behaviour has been around for so long, most parents still don’t know how to deal with it. They have come to accept it as culturally acceptable. Complexion, hair type and latest fashionable items are some of the kinds of things our youngsters are being bullied about as almost the norm.

A particular kid might be a victim of bullying for many years and normally decide to keep quiet about it to avoid even further embarrassment and being treated as an outcast. The parents of the kids who are being bullied also suffer with their children and sometimes feel that they are not doing enough to stop these unwanted actions directed at their children. They might also feel inadequate.

Sporting examples include a youngster being selected to represent his/her province at school and varsity level, by means of a scholarship or developmental programme. The youngster normally is surrounded by kids from other races and he/she is in the minority and ends up on the receiving end of unfortunate bullying onslaught. These youngsters end up unhappy, isolated and to a degree depressed. They also struggle to adjust to their new surroundings and the new experience becomes unbearable. Most end up leaving their teams and return home to a safe environment.

There is a great need to educate not only the kids about the undesirable impact of bullying, but also the parents of these youngsters. Including teachers, religious groups, communities and all citizens the globe over. We can no longer afford to be complacent about the impact and the numbers associated with suicide as a result of bullying.

Some of the research and discussions on the topic indicates that most people who have been bullied do not receive counseling and they carry this burden with them for years to come. This in itself is so unfortunate and requires attention.

The discrimination aspect element of bullying is in the form of kids participating and playing against more affluent schools and their equipment and kit is not at the same level or quality. On the field of play they are tormented in most cases unbeknownst to the officials and the parents in attendance.

Bullying is not an “us and them” problem but a societal challenge which needs to be addressed and not tolerated as a prerequisite for a more inclusive and accepted people.

Many are of the opinion that a recently elected president is the epitome of what a bully is. This he displays un-a-shamelessly; as witnessed!

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