Child Bullying: A Crime in Schools
I entered the classroom, it was my first day in Class 9th at Davis High, ever since we moved here. I topped in most of my first examinations, but didn’t make any friends. It had been an year now. I was still studying, but the loneliness was increasing. Nobody talked to me, but many made fun of my circular glasses. One day I was cornered in the washroom and forced to give the assignment I had completed before time to a group of classmates. I couldn’t do anything. I came home that day, tears filling my eyes. When my parents asked what was wrong, no voice came to answer.
It was 11th grade. I was failing. I didn’t know why. I was so good at this once, but now I can barely understand the easiest chapter of my book. My Mother keeps on scolding me, but I just stare at her, not knowing what to say. My grades are falling, but more than anything, my voice is fading. Girls pass by my seat, making fun of the way I look, but all I can do is pick up a textbook I don’t understand to hide my face.
It was 12th Grade. It’s the last year of School life, but I barely feel like going to school. I am afraid of going to school. I am afraid of everyone staring at me, judging me. I don’t want to be caged; I want to be free like I once was. I want to give up.
This is the account of the life of a student who faces bullying in high school, and the amount of emotional and academic deterioration that bullying brings with it. Bullying is a phenomena so popular yet underestimated amongst so many. When a parent was asked what children should do to deal with child bullying, the answer he gave was surprising, “Every child goes through it. It’s just a phase, they’ll learn how to deal with it and get over it.”
But Child Bullying is not just a phase, and its consequences in some cases can be so intense that they last throughout the child’s lifetime. Child Bullying is not just a tall kid teasing a small kid for his height in a friendly way, today it has taken so many forms through different platforms that it is no less than a crime.
Cyber Bullying is one form of bullying that has emerged in the recent years and has taken toll on the mind of youngsters. In some cases it was so intense that it lead to suicides. One example of Cyber Bullying was the Blue Whale Game, which identified children with weak will and influenced them so strongly that they committed suicide.
Understanding The Bully...
When it comes to child bullying, it is often not very simple to understand what goes on in the mind of the child who is bullying, and it is sometimes so complicated that School Councilors are not able to resolve the case easily. It is firstly thus important to understand that before placing the blame on anyone, the first thing to be done is to understand what goes on in the mind of the child- and why. Bullying emerges not just from the need of one to make fun of the other, but its origin is rooted deep in the child’s mindset, his background and his everyday emotions. Some children bully simply to establish a sense of authority- and display their strength publicly. It is often very easy for a child’s mind to fall prey to the power that bullying brings with it, as it is very alluring. There are others who bully to attract attention of others, believing that by making others laugh in the process of making fun of someone else, they can become both popular and likable.
Child Bullying also arises in children because of low self esteem. This lowered self esteem coupled with aggressive behavior and the need to express oneself freely gives way to bullying children- verbally or physically. The need to be accepted by the surrounding peer group grows so intensely in these children that they take any way to be likable; or think that they’re likable. There are even some bullies, who deliver an attack toward victims because of other bullies’ pressure, otherwise they would be bullied by other bullies.
One popular yet often unnoticed form of bullying is Relational Bullying. In fact, we observe relational bullying everywhere in our everyday lives. Relational Bullying is a form of silent bullying in which the bully silently bullies the victim in the form of gossiping, spreading rumors or isolating them. Children often see gossiping as a means of maintaining social status and feeling superior in their peer group.
“Different” does not deserve to be “dangerous”.
Along with identifying with the feelings of the bullies, it is also essential to identify the probable victim groups. The most common victims are those who are perceived to be different- in the way they dress, in the way they look, or in the way they speak.
But what’s ironic is that we’re all different in who we are, and no two of us are the same. While these differences are visible in one person, they are not in another, but making this difference the basis for bullying is the worst thing students could do.
Bullying often arises from prejudicial factors. If a child comes from a background where they talk in a language considered derogatory, it becomes the basis for others to tease him and make him feel guilty of being born in such a background. The prejudices that are built in our society are often misused to mistreat students, and sometimes on broader platforms in mistreating other people.
Most of all, bullying is a phenomena predominating those who refuse to abide the guidelines of this society- where having a social status demands backstabbing, being cool needs gossiping and strength requires physical abuse. If a child refuses to do these, he is easily victimized by his peers and made fun of.
What seems to last for a moments ends up having an impact for lifetime.
It might seem that a group of girls spreading rumors about another is a moment that lasts for a day or two; but the impact it leaves etched on the life of that girl is a long one.
It might seem that while a group of bullies physically beating a nerd, the marks left on his face are temporary but the emotional impact the situation creates on his mind is permanent.
Bullying causes strong and immediate negative effects to the victims lasting for years. They often show symptoms of depression, high anxiety, and similar negative emotional consequences. In addition, bullying victims tend to show a low self-worth.
The sense of alienation that bullying creates forces the victims to be afraid of coming to school and results in their absenteeism. Some of them are so traumatized that they don’t tell anyone what happened to them, which has more severe results because interaction sometimes brings relief.
This can often lead to a withdrawn behavior and fall in academics, causing worry in the child’s family. Additionally, it causes severe damage to the students overall growth and development.
So what approach needs to be adopted by schools to help students?
What needs to be done to uproot the problem of bullying completely?
The most efficient answer to this question is the application of the “Whole School Approach”.
A whole school approach brings everyone together to work towards creating a safe, inclusive, and accepting school where bullying problems are prevented and handled effectively when they arise. A whole school approach involves the administration, teaching and school staff, children, youth, parents/guardians, and the broader community.
If everyone, beginning from the parents to the school principal are together involved in making a system that wants to contribute and nurture the everyday growth of a students, the chances of scenarios like child bullying arising are less
For the students…
- School and classroom based learning activities that promote understanding of differences, inclusion and positive leadership are essential bullying prevention activities.
- From an early age, the students need to be taught moral educational values and need to practice activities that build their mind in a way that they are not influenced by the society to indulge in bullying activities.
- They should work in harmony to report cases of bullying directly to the teachers involved instead following an independent approach that causes severe damage.
- They should learn to trust and respect their elders and have faith to believe in them. Additionally, they should learn to share things with their teachers and parents to ensure that they can deal with child bullying with guidance.
For the teachers…
- In every school, it is essential to have both a male and female student councilor so that student can find their comfort area to confide in.
- These councilors need to be hired carefully, and should have a broad knowledge and should be understanding and patient.
- The teachers need to work collectively to identify cases of child bullying at an early age and resolve conflicts in a way that the students understand the importance of not indulging in such activities.
- Teachers need to conduct classes explaining the lifetime impact that child bullying leaves and make the students truly understand the harm they’re causing.
- Counsellors need to adopt with different children differently. They need to conduct regular sessions with the child in need and make a progress report of the student.
- The teachers need to encourage healthy class room discussions on this topic and initiate dialogue in students who have indulged in fights due to this issue.
- Awareness programs need to be conducted by the school to ensure that parents know the proper meaning of bullying and the guidelines to stop it. They need to understand the importance of having an environment that supports their children and empowers them.
For the Parents…
- Parents need to give their children time and ask them daily about their day at school. They need to encourage their children to talk in case a personal issue arises.
- They need to inculcate positive values in their children and talk about the negative effects that child bullying brings with it.
- They need to keep a check on the cyber activities of their chidren and discourage intense involvement in social networking sites. They should instead encourage their child to use internet for the positive activities.
- The Parents should keep a track of their child’s academic progress and deal with difficulties patiently. They should maintain a gentle and positive attitude in dealing with their child’s problems.
- They should also remain in touch with the school authority and maintain regular contact with their child’s teachers.
Additionally, the Principals need to establish a culture of support and mutual understanding that fights the wrong societal prejudices as a system.
With this collaborative approach, you can end up saving your child. The children that study in your school are no different from your own children, and by initiating this change, you can produce kids who live in harmony and discourage child bullying, not encourage it.
It could not be more sure that this gives one more, if not many reasons to add the ‘Happiness’ effect to your school and become one of the first few schools in the country to set a happiness-centric curriculum in place! Here is eduExcellence, in association with nurtr, presenting first of its kind online course on implementing happiness curriculum in school http://bit.ly/nurtrhappinesscur