Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bullying in schools

Bullying in the schools

An article published in one of the widely read monthly magazine should act as the reminder for parents and the school teachers. This is not something new but has been there in the schools for the last many decades and not much has been done by the responsible people. Yes, I am talking about menace of bullying in the schools. Many school going children suffer from the act of violence, physical or emotional, at one or the other time. This may happen in the classrooms, games field, in the bus or some other areas which may be deserted by time. Bullying has very negative psychological effect on the personality of the kids which may drive them to isolation, depression and lack of interest in doing anything.
The schools are the place where children come to learn and imbibe values so that they can prove to be productive citizen of the society in future. The schools provide the space to showcase and further develop their skills in the positive direction. And the good thing is that most of the children are inclined and focused to do so but there are always some who do not have positive attitude and try to be the boss of others in the schools. The children who behave in an undesirable manner derive pleasure in teasing and disturbing others.
 The parents and teachers should be careful about the behavioral change in a child. Once they notice that the child remains quite or lost interest in the activities he/she used to be participating so enthusiastically, then there is a possibility of some bullying taking place somewhere or may be the child is disturbed because of the behavior somebody else who may be sometimes even an adult also. The child would need support from them and if the same is provided at right time they would be able to save the child from further problems. The bullying has been a worldwide phenomenon and some people observe that most sufferers are the students in a boarding school. There have been studies about bullying in India and also abroad. The general observation is that twenty to sixty percent children would have experienced bullying in their school life. This number varies from place to place and the social background of the kids studying. The study done in the schools of Mumbai and Thane shows that approximately sixty nine percent school going children suffer from the menace of bullying but only half of them report the same to their parents or teachers.
One important question asked is that who these bullies are and why they get involved in such activities. The psychologists and the educationists share that such children are the ones who are ignored in the family or must have been bullied at one or the other occasion. They are generally weak in their studies due to which they might have felt ignored and tried to show their presence by indulging in bullying of physically or emotionally weak children. Once they find the other child getting disturbed they are encouraged by this and then try do the same to other children also. Initially some children do complain to their teachers and the parents but in most of the cases they are advised to avoid reacting to such children. This might help very few of them and when the bully do not find any reaction they spare such children but in other cases the bullied kids find themselves isolated and without appropriate help from teachers and parents. This makes the bullies to continue with bullying acts and more children come under their scanner and disturbed. Some of the children who were bullied change sides and become the part of the so called `brave group` of the class/school. This is a natural process that the people with negative thoughts get easily united while others avoid being seen as the part of right thinking group.
This is a known fact that in any school not more than five to seven percent children behave in an undesired manner and if they are identified and counseled in time then many children can be saved from deviating from the right path. The parents and the school teachers should ensure that no child suffers because of somebody else. The children who bully should also be understood and try extend a help to them as much as possible with an intention to correct them and save other children from their bullying. Many people think that the punishment is the main weapon which should be used to take care of bullies but this may not always help rather I would say that it does not help. At the same time the schools and the parents should frame an anti bullying policy which should be known to all. The policy should be such that helps all without harming anybody including the bullies. Now the question is why should bullies be treated with sympathy because they are the young children who can be an asset to the society in future and the schools owe a responsibility towards them also. That does not mean that no punishment should be given to the bullies but punishment should be such that it helps them to improve than to harm them.
The children who experience bullying in the schools are picked by bullies due to certain factors which are irrelevant to others but bully consider these good enough to select their prey. This can be the children who may be physically weak, the ones who are liked and appreciated by teachers, speaking better language, being clever, and scoring poor marks who show lack of emotional stability. What I understand from the observations and information shared by the parents and teachers is that the bullies will pick anyone to whom they find challenging them or whose actions and performance make them irrelevant. What I want to say is that if some children behave very well in the class and complete their work in time the bullies think them to be people who will make teachers target bullies for working hard. The bullies would not like anyone setting a good example and they will try their level best to hamper that progress by teasing and disturbing such children.
The question arises that how to solve the problem of bullying in the schools? For this the first and foremost thing is that the schools should recognize the problem of bullying and then try to identify the children and the causes of this. The teachers should be well trained to understand the psychology of the children and then how to handle them. They should ensure that both types of children are taken care of: bullies and the ones who are bullied. The ones who need to be protected should be encouraged to keep doing good and the ones who try to disturb them should be handled as per the case. There can be no one rule to tackle the bullies because the reason for their behavior might be different and the treatment should also be like that. There might be some cases who bully because they were meted out the same kind of treatment to them by others. The teachers should be more careful about the children who join after the beginning of the session because such children find themselves lonely in the initial days and there is good chances of their falling in the trap of bully children. This happens so because those who are good in the class do not pay much attention to the newly admitted and the bullies are in the search of adding number to their group. The teachers should help the child becoming friend to good students which will reduce the chances of their seeking friendship with the ones who might drive him in wrong direction. Here I do not mean to isolate the bullies but to help the newcomer. The bullies should be handled carefully and with an intention to bring them back in the main stream of the children so that they can perform well. The parents and teachers are very important functionaries in the process but role of the school students particularly the captains cannot be ignored. The teachers must take help of the prefects and class monitors to help the children being bullied. There should be a team formed which can be section wise, class wise and also at school level. All the children should be aware of this and they should be free to approach of the teachers or prefects if they face any problem. The children should be confident enough of their safety in the school and they should also feel that their identity will not be disclosed until very necessary because if the bullies come to know about the complainants then they harass them further this may be one of the reasons the children avoid sharing their problem with their teachers and parents. Many teachers and parents might have come across statement by many children when they tell that they did not complain to anybody because those kids have friendship with the students of colleges and they are the ones feared in the society. At times the bullies are seen with them at different places and the innocent children fear because of that. This trend is on the increase nowadays and the schools must be more careful about the same.

There are many reasons of the bullying which need to be discussed more seriously than what is done today because ignoring the problem is no solution rather it acts as the fission reaction if not controlled in time. More attention should be paid on this issue and every school should develop an anti bullying policy which should be known to all stakeholders. Safe school environment can be heaven for the kids otherwise it may turn into something disastrous for many of them. As the saying is that sound mind is in sound body similarly the child blossom in safe environment and this is the responsibility of the schools and the parents to provide the same to their kids.