The tragic death of 11 year old schoolchild Asad Khan from Bradford who took his own life after suffering bullying in school has garnered a nationwide outpouring of grief and sympathy and has prompted a ‘call to action’ for greater anti-bullying measures from all aspects of society.
The aftermath of Asad Khan’s death has seen an outpouring of grief from all across the UK and with the death under investigation from Yorkshire Police, there is a renewed call for greater measures to be put in place that tackles bullying in schools and boosts victim support.
In a heat breaking and heartfelt tribute to her son, the mother of Asad Khan wrote,
“He did not die of a long term illness or an accident but ended his life. Only Allah knows what he was going through when he made the decision of ending his life. The pain of losing your child cannot be described. To be told that your child was being bullied. The questions surrounding my mind are: ‘What must he have he gone through during his last hours? What happened to him that he took such a drastic step?’
“I request everyone to stand up against bullying, no child deserves to be mistreated. It is a serious issue and many are a victim of it. Today it is my child, tomorrow it could be one of yours. The support I am receiving from all, has definitely helped keep me strong. If your child witnessed my child getting bullied, please come forward. That is all a mother is asking for, justice for her child.”
Among the cross section of mourners that have come out to show their support for Asad Khan and his family have been Imams and faith leaders who have added their voice and promised more cohesion with local communities, authorities and media outlets as a way of highlighting the dangers of bullying and making people aware of mechanisms in place to help support victims.
“Bullying has been on the rise in recent years… it is about time to make it stop! Bullying affects everyone not just the victims of bullying but, the bully’s and everyone surrounding them. Often children are too embarrassed or scared to bring up the topic of being bullied their own. Parents can bring it up by discussing with sympathy and respect for others. May this tragic incident help the bullies realise the consequences of their bullying; and may it also help victims of bullying realise that there is always help available for them”.
Former head of the Bradford Council for Mosques, Rafiq Sehgal, who has promised to get together with Asian TV companies to broadcast the message that people need to be aware of bullying said,
“It is a hidden evil. So many people have come today in respect and mourning but this cannot be forgotten. We must make people, teachers, parents all aware to look for signs and act on them. We do not want this young boy’s life to have been a waste. If we do not do anything and this does not go further then what would have been the point? (of his death). We will get the message across through Asian TV channels, perhaps giving talks at school. We have to take the bull by the horns.”
Imam Muhammad Auzair Khan, chaplain at Doncaster Marshgate Prison said bullying was getting much worse and did not stop at 3pm when school finished. He said,
“It continues with cyber crime and should be treated as a criminal offence”
The problem of bullying is something that requires a holistic approach. It is paramount that children feel comfortable enough to speak to their teachers, parents and faith leaders to address issues openly. There needs to be a feeling of trust between children and adults whether it be at home, school, in the Mosque or at their Madrassah.
There must also be a concerted effort to continue raising awareness of bullying as a very real problem and that victim support charities and organisations are given the resources and support they need to provide the help and commitment required to eradicate the issue.
We continue to send our thoughts and prayers to the family of Asad Khan and to the families of all victims of bullying.