Combating bullying

November 5, 2016 00:15 AM Neha KC

Students should be taught that they should not tolerate any form of aggressive behavior and harassment in schools and the community
Bullying keeps everyone worried. But children are the worst victims of it. Bullying can happen through verbal, physical, social and cyber means. At school it might happen knowingly or unknowingly. It may take the form of name calling, using statements, forming groups, kicking, hitting, even through spreading rumors, manipulating situations, teasing and ignoring, which is common among middle school children. There are instances when children are not willing to go to school or start disliking particular friend all because of bullying.

Recently I was reading “Silence and shame” by Niranjan Kunwar published in Himal South Asian (February 10, 2016). It numbed me. It made me think why the teacher could not change the life of the victim of sexual abuse. There could have been a teacher who would understand the poor teen and help him to overcome what he was going through. Why did no teacher try to find out the reason behind his silence? 

As a teacher I can only imagine what the child must have gone through. Why didn’t the parents become supportive? What would have happened if the child escaped that school? One right step by the teacher or the parents could have turned his school days into the best memories of his life. 

There can be more victims like the character described in this article. We may know nothing about them. A research on School Bully by Niti Rana says that passive victims are physically weaker than peers and often avoid confrontations. Few months ago there was a report about a nine year old West Virginia boy who committed suicide due to bullying. 

Bullying remains as one of the dark hidden areas of social interaction that thrives in the bed of mystery. Schools are where our children are nurtured to learn and grow intellectually, socially and emotionally. But this cannot be achieved when children are fearful and feel insecure within their school environment. School members therefore should set the school ethos and create best environment for the children to grow intellectually and emotionally. It is essential to educate students that they should not tolerate any form of aggressive behavior and harassments in the schools and the community. 

I have witnessed how kind and considerate the children can be among themselves in an environment where love, cooperation, caring and consideration are the norms. Children need to be given lessons on how to combat bullying. Also we need to teach them to forgive and forget. Counseling can be even better idea.  

Research shows that victims of bully are at higher risk of going through psychological problems compared to those who have no history of being bullied. Evidence suggests that such victims also go through depression during adulthood. 

This is why parents and teachers have the responsibility to save the children from bullying. If the children hesitate to share the disturbing experiences with teachers and parents, let’s make them write journals. We can trace through their writings what has happened to them and also find ways to help them come out of the difficult situations.

It is essential to impart them puberty education as soon as they step in their teenage so that they know what’s happening to their body. Schools can play a vital role by conducting anti-bully programs where students know what is fair and what is not, whom to deal with and whom to report the incidents of bullying. Schools should keep suggestion box where students will drop their complaints against the bullies. 

Parents and teachers should develop the culture of sharing problems with each other. If we do so right from the beginning of schooling, we can save the children from the unwanted consequences later on.  Besides we also need to inculcate the habit of listening to our children. 

It is time for the policy makers and school community to work together to make our schools bullying-free zones.

The author is an M Phil scholar in education leadership at Kathmandu University and also the Coordinator at Aksharaa School

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