What is bullying?
How often has your child come home
crying about being teased or having its things “taken away”? Your
initial reaction, perhaps, was to ignore or pacify the child and believe
the problem will go away. What happens if the problem persists? Such
victimization is called bullying.
For children, a normal part of growing up includes being teased by peers
and friends, called names, being physically attacked, being forced to give
up prized possessions and even being ignored. Friends sometimes gang up
against a particular child and subject him or her to various indignities.
Long term effects of
school violence and bullying
Who likes to be forced to do things,
especially things one doesn’t enjoy doing? For a six-year-old, being
forced to hand over a Barbie doll is a form of bullying. Unfortunately,
elders do not take children’s complaints against bullies seriously and
the victimized child bears a cross for life. For, when exposed to
continuous bullying by classmates, schoolmates, bus friends or
neighbors, the child withdraws into a shell. It gets scared and develops
an inferiority complex. The child cannot perform well in school. Sooner or
later it begins to believe that it is wrong and the others are right.
Unable to speak out or face the tormentors, the child finds the easiest
way out – skipping school or avoiding bullies.
Bullies succeed in convincing the child that anything that goes wrong has
been his or her fault. Gradually the child develops a guilt complex. This
could act in either of two ways. It could make the child cry and shy away
from people forever, even when it reached adulthood, or it could produce
an aggressive adult.
The psyche of the bully
Most bullies who resort to violence in schools are so because they
themselves have problems. In many cases, a child being bullied often
resorts to it because he or she expects to be bullied and develops an
anticipated fear. Rather than
wait for the horrifying event to happen, the child prefers to take the
initiative and victimize another child. Sometimes, children nurture such
poor opinion of themselves that they take out the anger against themselves
by hitting another child.
Adults too often bully the child into
behaving the way they want it to. When they do not have their way, adults
insult a child by teasing it or frightening it with severe punishments or
repercussions. “If you
don’t say your prayers, God will make you blind.” A child who grows up
hearing this begins to hate the concept of goodness and godliness when it
becomes an adult. Because all he can associate with the word ‘God’ is
the picture of a monster that will physically harm him if disobeyed. Many
parents bully in the name of God and religion.
Some teachers are, unfortunately, bully in one way or other. Refusing to
believe a child is a kind of bullying. There was this bright and happy
seven-year-old, who threw a tantrum and refused to go to school one
morning, saying she had a stomach-ache. As soon as the rickshaw left she
confided to her mother that all she wanted to do was spend a day alone
with her, when everyone else in the house was away. Caught in a dilemma,
the mother decided to play along. Once the rest of the family members had
left, the child burst out crying. When the mother prodded gently, the
child confided that she deliberately wanted to miss school that day
because there was a math test that she knew she was going to fail and that
her teacher would never believe she had prepared for the test. On being
further prodded, the child told the mother things that almost had her in
tears. The mother had a tough time meeting the teacher and telling her to
refrain from speaking harshly to the child and to stop calling her
The first big step towards fighting school violence and bullying
The first big step towards fighting
bullying is to talk about the problem with somebody. How many of us are as lucky as the child and the mother who
had painstakingly built such a bond that each sensed the other and the
child felt comfortable telling her mother everything.
Confide in a friend, your parents, or a sympathetic teacher. If you are
shy about talking, you could mentally rehearse what you want to say before
you begin talking to the person. Or you could even make diary jottings and
show it to someone. Maybe you could ask your parents to talk to your class
teacher. Whether you are being bullied or you are a bully yourself, it is
not the end of the world. If there is one person who can change things for
the better, it is you. There are sympathetic listeners.
What a witness to school violence or bullying can do:
When you are witness to a violent school bullying
incident, you would better know these dos and don’ts.
Let an adult know what’s going on.
Do not run and try to play hero. You might give
the impression that you are bullying too. Talk gently to the bully;
sometimes a little bit of kindness and understanding brings the bully
Say a strict "no” to joining in the
"fun" (which is what the bullies think they are having when
they are bullying).
Treat the victim with kindness and empathy.
Involve an adult when you can't handle the