That’s how I decided to write about bullying:
Though there has always been a desire to contribute my bit, words were never kind to me, as it used to get stuck in a finger- key board synapse.
With the new found freedom of a sabbatical, I was on a topic-hunt to pen my first ever article, when my teenage son reached home that evening with a heavy face.
My persistence paid off, he agonizingly revealed the story of his sports shoes going missing at school. After a long search and with the help of his teacher, he managed to find his shoes, each one thrown in two different corners of the football stadium!
Bullying at School…!
“This is masterminded by a bully group”, as his narration progressed in passes and few words, the mother in me was all concerned. Like any other mother in my place will do, even the mothers of the so called ‘bully’ children
It was quite interesting (or alarming) to hear his narration of the bully behavior.
“Why does the bully behave like that?”
Why doesn’t anyone take action against it?”
“Why don’t their parents care about what their children are doing in the school?”
“Will the bullies not behave like this to their own parents?”
I was not having any clear answers to any one of the questions posed by my son to me; except my full attention and all consuming listening to his predicament.
I remembered his initial days at school, the trauma he felt while he was being isolated as a new entrant. According to him “nobody speaks to me, have to eat my lunch alone”.
Adding to the woes, few bullies were rash to him and as a result he felt quite lonely. Gradually he did pick up some good friends and he moved on….though the bulling refuses to abate.
Bullying…What is it all about fundamentally?
A few hours of neck cracking re (goggle) search, I felt myself bullied with information overload, and zillions of bites, concepts repeated time again in every page I bumped into: ‘bullying is unwanted aggressive behavior among school children with a purpose of causing discomfort or injury to the other person. ‘ It includes verbal and physical attacks, excluding someone from the group on purpose, teasing or passing threats and spreading rumors.
I further researched in my memory bank- at least some information spaces still existing where Google has not invaded, taking my memories to my own school and college days.
Yes , what I read sounds familiar. It always existed, though the words were different.
We were familiar with ragging, those days.
Is it the same or is there any difference between ragging and bullying?
Ragging is more of an ‘annual tradition’ where the seniors make the fresher students do things as per their whims and fancy. This happens mostly in the beginning of the academic year and is considered more as an ice breaking process. Whereas in bullying anyone can be the victim irrespective of being senior or junior.
Bullying is different; it is relentless and continues throughout the year.
I know, there is definitely nothing pleasant about bullying or getting bullied. To me it represents something that is never acceptable or necessary. I realized that the success in dealing with this situation lies in supporting my kid to come out of these difficult experiences much stronger and unscathed.
Let’s face it, bullying is not just prevalent in schools but we face it in all spheres and every phase of our life in one form or the other.
With proper guidance and support from me, I presumed, he can learn to stand up for himself and not be pushed around by anyone, that’s learning to make the best of a bad situation.
My desperate call to think tanks around for further ideas, generated quite a lot, honestly a lot more than what I can actually take in and practice.
Explore the psyche of the doer and the victim, examine the context that leads to this abnormality are some of the thoughts shared, which I think I could not comprehend in totality.
Positive impacts it might contribute sounds silly, though the caption of ‘make a wise student profit more from his bully than the fool who try to bully others’ strikes a very empathetic chord within me.
Finally, I made up my mind to teach him how to be disciplined enough to grab a sword not by its blade, which could cut you, but by the handle, which allows you to defend yourself.
The next day my servant maid was absent, spending a day at kitchen washing, cooking and cleaning gave my temper an upside swing. The tantrums of the little one, mountain piles of home work… I found myself yelling at my son, more than a bully might do in his peak!
My inability to control my emotions, unfortunately getting translated into a series of unpleasant words, leading to uninvited events at home!
A quite morning the next day, a detailed explanation on the reasons of my own upswing, a reassuring touch that it didn’t mean to hurt him, but only a safety valve of my own untamed emotions, and a genuine appeal for forgiveness…
The calm smile and a warm hug lifted the veil of gloom.
I was relieved for more than one count, after all I just uprooted a seed that could grow into a next bully!
Why do we have Bullies?
Studies have shown that most of the bullies have dominating and controlling behavior. They like to be looked upto and expect others to behave as per their wishes. Bullying helps them to feel superior and this boosts their ego.
Externally the bullies give an impression of being strong and confident whereas it has been noted that in many cases bullies suffer from feelings of insecurity and bullying helps them to get a feeling of being in control. Bullies are children who are often bullied or abused themselves.
The anger and frustration that they experience as a result of being hurt is directed towards others. This provides them great deal of relief. Family atmosphere will most likely be void of consistent parental supervision and might be supportive of aggressive behavior.
Bullies are rewarded for their bullying behavior either through material benefit or as recognition among peers. Bullying behavior often becomes a mode of being popular or being “cool” in the school as they cannot find any other means of carving their own niche.
Effects of bullying on the victim.
Alienation seems to be an immediate effect, as their friends themselves may be scared of the bullies and don’t want to be the bully’s next target.
The negative effects, studies argue that, can leave the victim with lifelong psychological scars – low self esteem and academic performance to depressive or psychosomatic ailments.
Effects of bullying on the Bully:
It is interesting to note that bullies also suffer from the negative effects of their own behavior. They generally tend to perform poorly in academics and may eventually even drop out from school. They are also at higher risk for alcohol or substance abuse. If not corrected at the early stages, their aggressive behavior continues into adulthood. They tend to get abusive in their marital and parental relationships and engage in criminal activities.
How can parents support a bully victim?
- Listen to your child carefully. Encourage them to talk to you about their school, schoolmates, school bus drive to and from the school, lunch time breaks etc.
- Don’t over-react or under-react. Children are often ashamed to disclose that they are being bullied. Hence take any of their bullying complaints seriously and probe further for details.
- Do not blame the child. It takes a lot of courage on part of the child to report bullying, so it is not right to criticize him for causing the situation.
- Accept the fact that the child is having a difficult time dealing with the bullies.
- Give children positive feedback when they behave well to help them build self-esteem. Help them build their self confidence to stand up for what they believe in.
- Encourage children to keep talking to you. Provide him support and assurance that you are there for him in any worst or difficult situation.
- Teach your child nonviolent ways to deal with bullies, like walking away, ignoring the bullies, playing with friends, or talking it out.
- Inform the school authorities if you think that your child is being bullied so that there can be close supervision in school.
Role of Parents of a bully:
- Listen carefully and question your child in the investigation of allegation
- Make serious effort to find out the reasons behind the bullying behavior of your child and seek professional help if needed.
- Ask yourself if someone at home is bullying your child. Often, kids who bully is bullied themselves by a parent, family member, or another adult.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts/ feedback / comments…