I’m sure we have all seen 15 year old Casey Haynes fighting back after years of bullying by dropping his attacker – Ritchard Gale, who is 3 years younger and half the size of Casey to the floor. It was a case of David & Goliath, except in reverse! I think this shows how its not all about size and age as to who does the bullying. I remember one of the biggest bullies at my school was quite small, but had a huge (aggressive) personality, which made much larger pupils scared of him. As have many thousands of kids, I too got bullied by this sort of person, though I never actually fought back, I used my verbal skills to get myself out of trouble, but thinking back I would have loved to have had the courage to give my bully what he deserved, and that is a smack in the mouth!
The smaller kid went on TV to defend himself, saying that Casey had verbally attacked him first – if you look at the actual footage and especially the body language, Ritchard did not look like someone who had just been verbally attacked, he was doing a ‘boxing dance’ around Casey as he was punching him in the face and he only apologised after being egged on by his father off screen.
It is always hard to view one person hitting another, particularly children, but the issue goes much deeper than simple bullying. The reasons for the bullying in the first place. Casey said in his interview that he is picked due to him being overweight, he gets called ‘fatty’ & told to lose weight. Another reason for bullying is whether a child is gay or perceived to be gay, but whats more disturbing is the increase in suicide rates for these children.
Although bullying is a terrible side effect of Obesity, there are many other health related problems like
- Type 2 Diabetes – usually associated with adults, but now being seen in children
- Eating disorders – particularly with young girls, but affecting boys as well
- Respiratory disorders – blocked airways causing problems breathing, especially during exercise
- Sleep apnoea – problems with prolonged sleep, causing tiredness & poor concentration during school hours.
Research shows that up to 20% of children or adolescents are considered Obese or overweight, with predictions this could rise to over 60% by 2020 at the current rate of increase, the other concern is how childhood obesity usually leads to adult obesity and more problems. Before we look at the solutions for this Obesity, we need to consider the actual causes of it in the first place, for example,
- Changes in the food we consume – look at the difference to say 40 years ago, at how easy fast food has become, plus an increase in preservatives, additives,& sugary foods, how we eat out more, have bigger portions blah blah!
- LESS exercise – kids these days spend their spare time sitting at the computer, eating chips, often for hours at a time, I remember spending my whole holidays playing & running around for hours! Inter-reacting with other kids and exploring!
- Parents/Genetics – as generations go by, our kids are resembling their parents – being Fat!! just look at the TV show ‘The biggest Loser, Families’, but also some children are more susceptible to gaining weight through gene disorders.
Childhood obesity is a problem worldwide and one that is only going to get worse unless we do more to combat it. We have to really look at how we are spending our free time, we need to educate, both children and adults (particularly parents), and reevaluate our priorities.
Part 2 of this blog will look at some of the things we can do to help correct this increasing problem.