Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 28 March 2020

'Disturbing' Dubai bullying video causes Arab influencers to speak out

'This could happen to your children. Your children could also be the bullies'

Influencer and mother of three Karen Wazen has spoken out against bulling. Karen Wazen / Instagram
Influencer and mother of three Karen Wazen has spoken out against bulling. Karen Wazen / Instagram

This week, parents across the UAE have been left shocked and saddened by a video circulated on social media showing a bullying incident at a Dubai school.

The video appears to show one teenage girl shouting and talking down to another who is visibly upset, before grabbing her by the hair. Gems Education, which runs Gems World Academy where the incident is alleged to have taken place, says it is investigating the incident and that the “appropriate action” had already been taken.

But the footage has had a much wider impact. It has sparked a bigger conversation around bullying culture and how parents and schools can ensure incidents like the one in the video do not happen again.

Gems Education said it is looking into the incident at World Academy, which was widely shared on social media. Satish Kumar / The National
Gems Education said it is looking into the incident at World Academy, which was widely shared on social media. Satish Kumar / The National

Weighing in on that conversation is Dubai-based eyewear designer and influencer Karen Wazen. With more than 2.4 million followers, Wazen, who has three children, posted a series of videos to her Instagram account on Wednesday, saying that she felt “disturbed” by what she saw in the video.

“It was really disturbing to watch, but I think more importantly it was disturbing to accept the fact that this happens, this happens closer to home than you can imagine,” she said. “This could happen to your children. Your children could also be the bullies.”

Wazen became emotional as she went on to say that she believes it is vital to have open and honest conversation with your children. “What I find really, really important as a parent is to be close to your children, close enough to understand what is really happening in their lives beyond them just sitting and talking to you about what they are comfortable talking about,” she said.

“Who are their friends? What are they watching? Who are they influenced by? Who do they admire? How do they speak to their friends? How do their friends speak?” she asked her followers. “We need to understand the importance of what happens in our children’s lives, this is something we take for granted and we need to not believe that we know our children just from what we see. They are exposed to so much, more than we can even know of or even control.”

Wazen also took the opportunity to speak directly to children or teenagers who are seeking social media fame. “Social media is a world, there is good stuff, there is bad stuff,” she said. “We need to understand that becoming famous because of social media is not a goal, becoming famous for something good, this should always be the goal, and then reflecting it on social media. But this obsession with just becoming famous for whatever reason is not a goal, and this should not be your goal. You always need to use whatever platform you have to do good.”

Dubai style influencer and blogger Deema Al Asadi also used her Instagram platform to join the conversation, sharing in Wazen’s sentiments. “I couldn’t agree more with every word she said about that video”, she said, using the hashtag #stopbullying.

The video was posted on social media on Sunday, February 9 by a pupil from a different school who had been sent the clip privately. Dubai’s education regulator, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), was tagged in the post alongside the school in which the incident is thought to have occurred. It has since been retweeted thousands of times.

Updated: February 13, 2020 03:13 PM

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