Because of the cultural beliefs in some societies that men should never show emotions – let alone cry – most of them bottle them up and end up venting their frustrations through violence.

Some claim it is because of this belief that most kids retaliate or keep quiet when faced with violence or bullying at school.

Some do not report these incidents for fear of being labelled weaklings or sissies, leading them to find comfort in alcohol, drugs, or even worse – suicide.

A 2011-12 study conducted by Unisa through its Youth Research Unit showed that nearly 35 percent of pupils in Gauteng – 1 158 pupils – had been bullied in the past two years. Though bullying in schools is said to be a universal challenge and not unique to SA, the high figure was a cause for concern.

With the advent of technology a new form of bullying – cyber-bullying – has reared its ugly head.

Of serious concern is that it is not only limited to school premises, but can stretch for 24 hours, seven days a week.

It is for this reason that some researchers feel the patriarchal culture in which men are viewed as tough and strong need to be eradicated and a culture of openness instilled in our kids.

As parents we need to be proactive and teach kids about respect for others.

If our kid is one of the bullies, we should not leave the responsibility of disciplining them to teachers.

We need to be involved in dealing with bullying and discourage retaliation, as it leads to a vicious cycle of violence.

As a country we are faced with challenges, with violence being high on the list. It is, therefore, important to teach our kids that conflict can be settled through dialogue.

This way we avert a situation where the bullied become bullies themselves.

We should entrench a culture of respect, compassion, empathy and hammer into our kids from a young age the philosophy that an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.

Prevention of violence is vital and education is one of the interventions that could assist in nipping it in the bud. We all need to do our bit in fighting the scourge and creating more awareness about bullying.

Melitah Madiba, Soweto