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Bullying, other social issues are rooted in families.

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A child-adolescent psychiatrist for over 14 years in the UK and UAE said parents have to take a closer look at and examine themselves and their families very well first before passing the buck for any dysfunctionality, trouble or any problem their children get them into.

“I am yet to see someone from a healthy functional family with supportive parents who became a bully,” Dr Saqib Latif said.

He added that families and parents must take the conscious effort of knowing their children’s friends. He said, “I see children who only bully, because they are part of a group [of bullies] who make them feel alienated if they do not do the same despite abhorring the vice.”

On his take, regarding the misuse and proper use of the Internet, the owner of the American Centre (Psychiatry & Neurology) in Abu Dhabi, said: “It is the responsibility of adults to ensure that the content and time duration of the use of electronic devices is closely monitored. Adults should ensure that such devices are only used for the best purposes.”

To further drive his point home, Latif, who is also affiliated with the American Centre (Psychiatry & Neurology) in Dubai, added that parents have to take it upon themselves to be responsible role models for their children. 

He said, “It goes without saying that the most effective way to teach our children how to use technology within limits is by modelling to them through our own behaviour and trying to limit its use within homes to encourage more family time.” 

Latif had earlier mentioned to The Gulf Today that the reason for becoming a child-adolescent psychiatrist is that through the years of his exposure in hospitals, he realised that physical health is only “one dimension of someone’s suffering” and that in-depth consultations constantly yield to the reality that illnesses “stem out of more complex psychological and social issues.”

He added: “Working in general psychiatry taught me how important the early years are, when the personality is developing and positive interventions at that early stage are the only way to prevent later adverse health outcomes and to raise a healthy generation for a brighter future.”

According to his observational data, the top five reasons why children eventually become bullies are family or parental issues; personal factors, namely poor insight or awareness of actions, lack of empathy, superiority complex and big ego, among others; belongingness; prejudice; and adverse childhood experiences such as neglect, abuse and trauma.

“Bullied children are at increased risk of becoming bullies themselves,” said Latif.

On the anatomy of bullying, he said: “The vast majority of bullies do not feel listened to or understood by their family, particularly their parents. They do not often spend time with their parents and the only way to have the control is by showing off their power in this dysfunctional way.”

On the personal factors that also include the bullies’ perception that they will not be blameworthy anyway, Latif said this is rooted in the parents’ or families’ inability and irresponsibility in implementing “rules and boundaries” on their children, their absence, and the over-compensation of giving the children a free hand because they are neglectful as parents.

On the issue of prejudice, Latif strongly believes that families and specifically parents in close collaboration with the school administration would be able to tweak this by setting the change of mindset among the youth and demonstrating to them the essence of equality, respect, responsibility and trust.

Dr. Saqib Latif,

Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, ACPN

(Gulf Today, May 4, 2018)

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