As parents, we have many worries about our children, but the biggest concern is always the safety and well-being of your child, not just physical but their mental well-being as well, especially when they are away from us. Recently, a video by an Australian mother narrating how her son got bullied at school has been shared by several people on my timeline. And most of them were immigrant parents bringing their kids up outside of India. In the video, she talks about her nine-year-old son’s despair because of the relentless bullying he faces at school. The mother can be further heard pleading that something more substantive needs to be done about disability awareness and education in schools.
In the heart-wrenching video, the kid can be heard saying, “I just wanna die right now. I just wanna bang my head into a glass.” And the mother claims, “But every single fricken day another episode, another bullying, another bullying another taunt, another name calling.” The kid was born with Achondroplasia, the most common form of Dwarfism. Since the release of the video, a lot of people and several groups have reached out to the family extending support.
Harassment comes in many forms and bullying is a universal issue which has been a part of schools and workplaces. However, bullying by peers in school is very disconcerting for a parent. The TOI quoted a report in 2017 stating “As many as 42 percent of students of Class 4 to 8 and 36 percent of Class 9 to 12 said they are subjected to harassment by peers on school campuses, a five-year study conducted at 15 locations across the country has found.”
Harassment comes in many forms and bullying is a universal truth which has been a part of schools and workplaces.
Bullying can be direct, where a student or a group targets a student directly, they can physically harm them and attack their reputation or indirect, like spreading rumours about someone. Cyberbullying is also common among today’s school-going children and we are aware of several such scandals which have surfaced in top schools of our country. At the college level, we are all aware of the menace of ragging which got us the UGC Regulations on Curbing the Menace of Ragging in Higher Education Institutions.
In schools, bullying is not just hurtful to the target but the bully as well. Remember that both parties involved are kids. The target undergoes mental trauma but it is very important to know the reason behind the frustration of the bully. Bullies thrive on attention, they feel encouraged when bystanders laugh, and parents or teachers do not react to their target’s complaints. We all know how the overweight, underweight, spectacled, the one who stammered got picked up by the school bully. And bullying is not limited to one gender either.
Remember that both parties involved are kids. The target undergoes mental trauma but it is very important to know the reason behind the frustration of the bully.
Bullying definitely impacts a child’s ability to learn, a child who is feeling isolated and not cared for is not happy. Schools need to acknowledge bullying as abuse and not dismiss it as a normal rite of childhood. In my experience, kids love observing patterns in most things around them and the moment they spot a deviation they call it out. So, while why does grandpa have white hair and dad has black is a naïve query, calling someone short, fat or dark is absolutely not ok and it has to be conveyed from the beginning. Children should be encouraged to express and regulate their feelings. Adults in charge of children, at home and at schools, need to be very clear about what is acceptable and what is unacceptable behaviour. As adults, it is our responsibility to teach children about right and wrong, equality, inclusion and diversity and give them a positive climate to grow up.
Picture Credit: Eparent
The views expressed are the author’s own.