Bullying, as we call it, has become a major issue in our day to day lives. In India, we frequently mistake bullying with normal childhood teasing or youth prodding. But not many people know that Bullying is an act of aggression, which can be described by purposeful, repetitive and controlled power over another individual. It is the duration and seriousness of such conduct which impacts an individual far more deeply than we could imagine. In an Indian family, we believe in advising our young boys with terms like “boys don’t cry”, “toughen up” or “hey, don’t express your emotions like that”. Instead, it is now important to teach our children to be assertive and express what they feel is correct or not, courageously. And it is high time that, we as grown-ups, also stop assuming that bullying is as typical as a part of childhood.
When we discuss about bullying, it might be of different sorts, for example, physical bullying (direct injury, violence), social harassing (humiliating, spreading rumours, isolating), verbal bullying (criticizing, abusing), cyber harassing and many more. Generally, bullying includes two perspectives, to be specific – the guilty party, who bullies and the victim, who has been bullied.
But who are these people that bully others?
These bullies are portrayed as academically clumsy and impulsive, with harsh environments at home. On the other hand they are socially equipped and are well-known in their peer groups. These individuals uniquely turn into the ones to look up to for control and influence in peer groups.
Bullies tend to target people with low confidence and self-esteem. The more fearful an individual feels, the more encouraged a bully gets. Bullying may happen anywhere, be it in a work environment, school, college, neighbourhood, and so on.
Specifically talking about India, the impacts of school bullying have been felt every now and again, in the form of suicide attempts by young students. A top Indian advertising and research organisation, IMRB, led a survey demonstrating that “every third kid” is bullied in Indian schools. Research also suggests that boys report more bullying than girls, yet young girls report more exploitation and victimisation (Cook, Williams, Guerra, Kim, & Sadek, 2010).
Is bullying affecting your child? Read Child Abuse: Signs to watch out for!
What causes them to bully?
• Children tend to learn a specific conduct at home and feel justified in carrying the same behaviour at school or with their friends.
• Research proposes that kids who have a tendency to be both – bullies and victims, are described to have authoritarian parenting styles that leads to severity in their behaviour (Baldry and Farrington, 1998).
• Since the very beginning, exposure of a child matters. Exposing them to television programmes (without supervision), online networking or social media can influence how they think and act, to a great extent.
• We consider India to be a home to an extremely competitive, degree-focused society. A child performing poorly at school might otherwise bully or harass a bright child’s potential, out of hatred and the other way around.
Repercussions of Bullying
Kids and adolescents who have been bullied may experience any of the following:
• Low confidence
• Self-harm tendencies
According to clinicians and psychologists, there are a few common signs indicated by adolescents and kids when they experience bullying, which may sometimes go unnoticed by parents or guardians:
• Children acting stressed or worried all the time
• Children starting to fear from travelling in school transport
• Complete school refusal
• Children returning home with wounds or torn uniform/dress
• Children demanding more pocket money for school
• Children complaining of frequent headaches, stomach aches or other medical problems
Also read Stand Up To Bullying
How to manage Bullying?
There are a few steps through which you – as a parent, teacher, or an individual, could manage the bullying behaviour and its harmful effects:
• Communicate and be open with your kids, so they feel extremely comfortable in sharing what occurred at school, or any other incidents they encountered. This will help you in gaining your child’s trust and enable them to talk to you when they require your help.
• Invest your time for your children. Spend some quality time to make sure they know you are there for them – concerned and working for their happiness.
• There are chances of getting contradictory information on the conduct and behaviour of your child. Thus, gathering reliable and complementary source of information on whose company is your child in, and what goes around in their life, be it at school or in the neighbourhood is important.
• Start taking bullying behaviour on a genuine note. Recognise the risks of bullying on children. Try not to disregard your kids’ case or when they claim they have been bullied.
• If your kid seems to be a slow learner, or may have special needs, be more careful in taking precautions in keeping them safe from any potential risks.
• If you are unable to figure out what is wrong with your child, schedule a time with a professional counsellor to help your child overcome the effects of bullying, in case they have been bullied.
• Train your children with the power of assertiveness. Let them know that if they sense a wrongdoing with themselves or others – communicate. Ask them to inform the teacher, parent or anybody they trust, so that things are controlled in the first stage itself.
A famous quote by Chris Colfer, says “When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sand paper. They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished and they end up useless.” Don’t let the fear of bullying get the better of you…beat it at its own game!