Bullying, family problems, bad legislation: Why is number of child suicides on the rise?

Author : Iryna Shostak

Source : 112 Ukraine

According to official statistics, the number of child suicides in Ukraine has increased in recent years
21:39, 29 March 2021

Illustrative photo of bullying
Open source

Since the beginning of the year, there has been news about minors committing suicide attempts: a seventh-grader from Boyarka, an eighth-grader from Uman, a 10-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl from Kyiv. And these are not all the cases mentioned in social networks a few weeks ago, when children swallowed pills and jumped from high-rise buildings. For some of them, unfortunately, the attempts were crowned with success.

According to official statistics, the number of child suicides in Ukraine has increased in recent years. So, in 2019, 111 suicides or attempted suicides of minors were recorded, in 2020 - 137 completed suicides. And according to the National Educational Association, in early 2021, the number of child suicide attempts tripled. And we are talking about the official data. What about the number of suicides that are "attributed" to accidents?

The sharp outbreak of child suicide in the police is associated with dangerous games on the Internet. Ombudsman for the rights of the child Mykola Kuleba also noted this on his Facebook page.

"The danger on the Internet is greater than it seems. Children may not understand the consequences of their actions, they may consider entertainment that leads to catastrophic consequences. Talk with your children about the danger online! Remind children of the important rules for using the Internet and social networks," children's ombudsman urged.

According to the data, teenagers swallowing pills, tried to repeat one of the challenges on the TikTok. There is also a version about the so-called death groups. For example, the activities of one of these groups were recently exposed by the police in the Dnipropetrovsk region. A Telegram channel that encouraged teenagers to inflict bodily harm on themselves was created by a 15-year-old resident of Kryvyi Rih. The girl herself was going to commit suicide and encouraged others to do so.

According to conflictologist Bogdan Petrenko, the topic of "death groups" and challenges (deadly games) is significantly demonized in public opinion. After all, firstly, they are actually not very widespread, and secondly, they do not manipulate consciousness as much as it seems.

“You need to understand that those that exist already include people who have decided to commit suicide. And groups for them are just a path, a method. Not a reason," says Petrenko.

Let's return to the Uman eighth-graders. The girls drank 10 tablets and ended up in the hospital. They deny participation in any challenges. Moreover, the press secretary of the regional police Zoya Vovk noted in one of the comments that the girls were guided by the desire to attract the attention of loved ones, which they themselves admitted to.

And although the network does have its sins, it can only push for a decision to end one's life if problems in the family, misunderstandings with peers and bullying at school are attached to modern Internet fun. More precisely, the latter become the foundation for the generation of such thoughts.

Out of 2.5 thousand cases of attempted suicide annually, about 40% are caused by bullying. However, law enforcement officers cannot say for sure, because they do not count the number of cases when Ukrainian children decide to commit suicide because of bullying.

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“According to the data of the National Police, for the whole 2020 in the crowded Kyiv as many as ... 9 cases of bullying were registered. Moreover, the police gladly shifted responsibility to the Office of the Prosecutor General. I quote: "... the generalization of data (statistical data) on the facts of suicide, attempted suicide committed by minors, and the formation of statistical reporting on their basis in the National Police is not carried out," writes the member of the Kyiv City Council Grygoriy Malenko on his Facebook page, referring to his request to the National Police.

An anti-bullying law passed several years ago was supposed to help solve the problem. As we can see from the statistics, it works dubiously. So, in total, in 2019, 316 cases were considered under the auspices of "combating bullying". Fines were imposed on 100 people.

Since every fourth child in Ukraine suffers from bullying, such punishment is unlikely to prevent conflict. In addition to the punitive part, the law also has a preventive one, which, according to experts, also needs to be improved.

"The problem is that the preventive part was approached formally. We are indeed gradually moving forward, but we can’t say that the issue can be resolved simply by spending a class hour, posting a notice on the wall about the perpetrators of bullying, or even creating a punitive system," says the conflict expert Bogdan Petrenko.

Moreover, not all bullies are criminals, they can be quite normal children who simply do not know how to prove themselves. And here a deeper analysis is needed than a few lessons on the topic.

"Various NGO representatives come to us to tell children what bullying is and why it is necessary to prevent it. Children understand everything, answer questions correctly, nod their heads. However, the lesson ends, the students take a break and continue to hound each other," the teacher shares his view.

The point is that the imposition of a model of behavior is not always the correct solution to the situation. The problem also lies in the lack of programs for the social adaptation of such students. After all, psychologists note: such manifestations may indicate that the child is not given the opportunity to show his abilities, leadership qualities and ambitions.

But one way or another, more often than not, "all roads lead home."

Children imitate a family member's behavior patterns. And this is not just about those who resort to bullying. The child is able to imitate both the "abuser" and "victim" models.

It all starts with the family. If a teenager did not receive something in childhood, a "blind spot" appears. Then the child is more inclined to include bullying and death groups in his life.

Despite the fact that in the social system of the importance of adolescents, parents are relegated to the second or even third plan, they are still important to them. It is necessary to maintain communication, restore the teenager's trust, help expand the circle of acquaintances and talk about her / his importance and peculiarities, this should be done by the parents. After all, if the "death groups" take up this business, the child runs the risk of becoming a victim of manipulation and making a fatal decision.

One way or another, but responsibility for cases of child suicide is the responsibility of the whole society: from proper control of law enforcement agencies to working with children in schools and at home.

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