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How can families shield children against bullying? –

The world over, family constitutes the cornerstone of society, and a source of emotional support, guidance, and belongingness among humans. It is a foundation, which, if fractured by marital breakdown, resulting in broken home, portends enormous consequences on the upbringing of the child.

This article explores the impact of child upbringing in a broken home on an individual’s resilience against bullying and intimidation, while also delving into the pivotal role of family in defending against such adversities.

Additionally, we will draw parallels with the tragic case of Ilerioluwa Aloba, popularly known as “Mohbad”. Mohbad was a prominent Nigerian singer, whose alleged suffering of bullying was reported to have contributed to his untimely death at the young age of 27 years.

1. The Mohbad tragedy: A stark reminder

The recent passing of Mohbad, a talented Nigerian singer, sent shockwaves through the nation. Allegations of bullying and intimidation emerged in the wake of his tragic demise, shedding light on the pervasive issue of harassment within the entertainment industry. Mohbad’s experience serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of family support in shielding individuals from such adversities.

Ø Coping mechanisms: Dominant narratives suggest that Mohbad faced considerable pressure and harassment within his professional circles. In the absence of a robust family support system, he may have lacked the necessary coping mechanisms to navigate these challenges effectively.

Ø The role of mentorship: In addition to family, mentorship plays a vital role in an individual’s resilience against bullying. Strong mentorship can offer guidance, support, and a safe space for expression. In Mohbad’s case, the absence of a strong mentor figure may have left him vulnerable to the pressures of the industry.

Ø The place of Values: It is important to note that values serve as a compass guiding an individual’s choices and actions. They reflect one’s core beliefs and priorities, influencing decisions in personal, professional, and ethical realms. Decisions aligned with these values lead to fulfilment, integrity, and a sense of purpose while shaping a meaningful and authentic life.

2. The protective shield of family

Ø Nurturing emotional intelligence: A strong family provides a nurturing environment where children can develop emotional intelligence. Through open communication and unconditional love, they learn to express themselves, empathize with others, and develop a healthy sense of self-worth. These skills are a formidable defence against bullying and intimidation.

Ø Building resilience: Families serve as training grounds for a resilient personhood. In a supportive environment, children learn to face challenges, manage conflicts, and build inner strength. This foundation equips them with the tools necessary to stand up to bullying, rather than succumbing to it.

Ø Fostering healthy relationships: Healthy family relationships serve as blueprints for future interactions. Children learn to establish boundaries, communicate effectively, and cultivate respect for others. These skills are invaluable in dealing with bullying situations, as they empower individuals to assert themselves confidently.

3. The fallout of a broken home

Ø Emotional resilience deficit: Children from broken homes often face challenges in developing emotional resilience. The absence of one parent or a strained relationship between parents could lead to feelings of insecurity, abandonment, and self-doubt. These emotional struggles are capable of leaving them more vulnerable to bullying and intimidation in the various social spaces where they find themselves outside the family.

Ø Lack of role models: In a broken home, children are denied the affordance of quality role-modelship or exemplars, as they evolve into adulthood. They may neither have the opportunity of experiencing healthy relationships nor effective conflict resolution, which are essential life skills in navigating social situations throughout the life course. This deficit is capable of ill-preparing the child to handle bullying.

Ø Confused identity: Children from broken homes may grapple with issues of identity and self-worth. The absence of a stable family unit can lead to feelings of inadequacy and a search for validation outside the home. This vulnerability can make them targets for bullies seeking to exploit these insecurities.

The impact of child upbringing in a broken home on an individual’s resilience against bullying is profound. A supportive family unit fosters emotional intelligence, builds resilience, and cultivates healthy relationships, equipping individuals to stand strong against intimidation.

Based on the prevailing narrative, the tragic death of Mohbad serves as a stark reminder of the importance of family and mentorship in shielding individuals from bullying. As a society, we must recognize the pivotal role that families play in nurturing resilience, and work towards creating environments where every individual, regardless of their upbringing, can thrive and flourish.

Values play a pivotal role here especially impacting on our decisions such as the company we keep and engage which shows that the choices we make can either make or mar us. It was alleged that Mohbad was a cultist, and hence the translation of his nickname ‘Mohbad meaning I am Bad’.

However further investigation revealed during an interview with him where he gave the meaning of his nickname ‘Mohbad – I am Bright and destined’. He also adopted the name ‘Imole’ which means ‘Light’ in Yoruba so that he wouldn’t be pictured as a bad person.

Read also: How bullying distorts children’s social, educational developmental goals

He also believed that good can come from bad situations, but still made a bad decision which could possibly have been averted if he had a healthy family background that instilled good values in him to make the right choices. It is therefore assumed that he made the decision to leave the record label, a year before his untimely death, when he discovered that it was a wrong decision, he made to join the label.

In conclusion let us take a look at the role of family in providing emotional support and well-being. Marriage nurtures emotional support systems, providing a haven for members to express themselves. It offers a platform for mutual care, fostering mental and emotional well-being. The emotional stability derived from a strong marital union extends to the children, enabling them to grow in a nurturing environment.

At the Institute for Work and Family Integration, we believe the two principal players in the family have the responsibility of care to each other as a couple, without jeopardizing the life chances of their children. When couples are in disagreement, they should try to address and resolve the problem, to avoid degeneration into marital breakdown and the high social costs that come with it.

Ezeugbor is programs manager at the Institute for Work and Family Integration, Lagos. She can be reached on: 08025789454 OR info@iwfionline.org

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