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Education and children’s welfare are two of the causes at the heart of Sacred by Design. Of course, education does not stop when school ends for the day; children’s health does not stop with nutrition and hygiene. Bullying is a very serious issue that has recently gained great media attention, but protecting our children isn’t all about parental control apps. We have to think about the messages we adults are teaching children, whether we are aware of it or not.

Reality TV and Its Dangerous Lessons on Bullying

Recently, when I was watching the Winter Olympics, I found myself looking at an advertisement for a cooking show. However, you couldn’t tell that it was an amateur cooking show, as the ad was centred on adult contestants being nasty to each other. What was meant to be a cooking competition descended into contestants throwing insults at each other such as “plastic”, “fake”, “cow” and “ugly”, taking attention away from the team demonstrating their skills that night.
What does it say about us as a society, when these comments are not only made, but pass the editing process?

How Our Bullying Behaviours Affect Children

There is no denying it; children are like sponges, particularly when they are toddlers. Research in paediatric (child health) journals has even shown that exposure to violence on TV shows is linked with a greater risk of violent behaviour in children. While this mostly concerns physical violence, it isn’t much of a stretch to assume that verbal and emotional attacks are learnt in the same way.

Children imitate us, whether we want them to or not. They see us watching bullying behaviour on TV, where the bullies are often popular characters or glamorously dressed reality stars, and see them rewarded with fame.
If they see us tuning into and enjoying programs focused on being verbally abusive to each other, they may see it as grown-up behaviour which they should therefore emulate.

Soon after I saw the ad for a show meant to be centred on cooking, I watched the morning news. One segment involved a mother talking about her immense sorrow as she had recently lost her teenage daughter to suicide…after bullying. My heart ached.

How can we acknowledge the tragic consequences of bullying and vow to fight it one minute, and the next, engage in or promote bullying behaviours? We send mixed messages to children on a daily basis.

We need a more conscious approach to how our actions influence others. Let’s be role models every day and teach our children to care for each other.

As the beautiful Audrey Hepburn said “The best thing to hold onto is each other” and I couldn’t agree more.