The Internet and social networks have greatly increased the risk of child
suicide due to bullying, says Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, executive director of the
National Council for the Child.
He was reacting in Wednesday to the case
of a 12-yearold who committed suicide in Beersheba this week. The boy was found
unconscious in his room after having strangled himself. He was taken to the
city’s Soroka University Medical Center, where he was pronounced
Police suspect that the child killed himself after having been
bullied by peers at school. Earlier this month he posted the following status on
his Facebook profile: “Being lonely is not necessarily being alone, it can also
happen when you are surrounded by the wrong people.”
According to Kadman,
the Internet’s “massive reach” and the fact that it is a vehicle for “anonymous
evil” is what increases the impact of bullying on children.
added, is made worse by the “prevailing misconception that both adults and
children have, that there are different standards and values in the real world
and in the virtual world, and that what is forbidden in the real world is
allowed and legitimate online.”
However, he stressed that the boy’s
suicide was related to a variety of issues that cannot always be blamed on the
“We need to invest in education, not necessarily formal
education, of children, parents and teachers so they can identify distress, and
encourage them to report any suspicion of injury or signs of distress to
professionals,” he said. “We should also make clear to children that what is
disqualified and negative in the real world is equally wrong in the virtual
Also on Wednesday, Education Minister Shai Piron reacted to the
case on his Facebook page.
“I think about [bullying], trying to figure
out how it happens that we pick on someone and behave cruelly toward them, with
cynicism, mockery and more,” he wrote.
Piron shared his own experience of
having been shunned by peers in the eighth grade after he told his teacher that
someone had hit him.
“It was three excruciating days when I felt
helpless, confused and sad,” he recalled.
He also addressed
“You are not bad. You just do not realize that it can destroy,
injure and leave a mark on someone for life. Nothing, but nothing, grows
out of being spiteful; nothing good is built on cynicism, and mocking someone is
a very low thing to do,” he told them.
According recent data released by
Kadman’s group, there are some 6,000 attempted child or adolescent suicides in
Israel each year. Only about 700 are actually reported to
The data show that in 2012 there was a drastic rise in the
number of attempts among young children, with 24 cases involving children aged
nine or under.
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