During the school years, bullying is one of the most common expressions of violence in the peer context. Research on bullying started more than forty years ago, when the phenomenon was defined as ‘aggressive, intentional acts carried out by a group or an individual repeatedly and over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him- or herself’. The issue of bullying has plagued many school systems in India. We have all read about issues of bullying causing students to take drastic measures to make the pain stop. Unfortunately, many of these drastic measures have resulted in suicide and/or murder.Every third child is bullied in school according to US-based national center for education statistics in 2007. Sadly, these numbers have only escalated in India over the last couple of years.
All children experience some form of school bullying as they move through school and/or college or even at home before they enter adulthood. So how should parents and educators deal with this growing menace?
Let’s begin with understanding what school bullying is:
Bullying is Intentional: Children can hurt other children by accident; but school bullying is always intentional and meant to cause some sort of harm, either physical or verbal.
Bullying is repetitive: School bullying occurs repeatedly as seen in many cases. Bullies often target children who they know will not do anything about the behaviour, so they can continue this act for as long as they like.Bullying is HurtfulBullying is a negative behaviour that may include physical or verbal harm. It can also greatly affect the psychology of the one who may be bullied. Bullying is imbalance of power if two children hold an equal amount of power, one cannot bully the other. This imbalance of power can come from different sources, including age, size, strength, and social status
Why do children bully each other?
Why are children involved in acts that harm other kids? Why do they bully? Being a child counsellor I often see children who bully tend to have exposure to violent behaviour at home, media, lack of social values, parental monitoring, bad role model act as contributing factors
When parents and educators do wrong.
You will notice that many parents and teachers resort to ‘bullying’ children. For instance, if a teacher shames a student for not finishing his homework, he/she establishes his/her authority and creates an imbalance of power. This then gives license to other children in the class to humiliate this student.
Similarly, parents who yell at their children, use a sarcastic tone of voice and in a repeated manner lower the child’s self-esteem are also bullying the child. Observation of such behaviour can either cause a child to feel that it is okay to be bullied or that it is okay to bully.
How can parents and educators play a positive role.
It’s a menace which many children experience and one that needs immediate redressal. Thus, it is important for caregivers, guardians, parents, authorities and counsellors to notice signs of bullying and act soon. Educators must provide equal opportunities to all the students and should help to enhance child’s self-esteem. Schools should make sure there is an anti-bullying committee which is compulsory in all CBSE schools.
Parents must keep a check on child’s social media accounts as cyber bullying is on rise, keeping the door open for communication and no judgment policy with the child helps in a positive parent child relationship. Parents must keep a tab on child if the child is always worried or sad, if you notice torn school or play clothes, if you notice bruises, if the child misses school quite often, if the child avoids the school bus, if you notice an increasing demand for more pocket money or if you notice frequent complaints of headaches and stomach aches; be careful, because these are the usual smoke signals to detect that the child is haunted by a bullying instance
I believe that children should be able to live a life free from bullying and harassment and it is time that we all take a stand against this. Bullying can spread when left untreated. Thus, we should stop dismissing bullying as a harmless, inevitable, part of growing up.The solution to putting an end to bullying is to stop it at the source but also to find out what is causing the person to behave the way that they do.Be empathetic towards children and ensure that children who are bullied receive the counselling support they need at the right time.
(The author is a RCI child counsellor, Jodhamal Public School)