We have all grown up studying in the best possible schools our parents could afford to put us in. Going through my memory lane and reminiscing my school days, makes me feel all happy and joyous. Going to school on the bus, greeting our friends before the morning assembly begins, surviving through the tedious six hours of school, with just a 20 minute break in between, (that by the way, felt like cold sprinkled water on a very hot and sweaty face), and then packing our bags and returning happily to the comfort of our homes. This was a normal school day of my life and I’m pretty sure, most of our lives went the same way.
But whenever I go deep into my mind palace, I remember this boy I had in my class. His name was Arjun. He was short height, wore spectacles, had braces and usually wore a dirty shirt to school. His shoes were always dirty and he carried a bag, that was almost falling to pieces. He was one of the scholarship students who were taught in our school at a lower fee because they came off from a poor background. He was brilliant in his studies. He always scored amongst the toppers. But a few ruthless, rowdy, rich brats of my class never left him alone. They would mock at him, call him and his family names made fun of his hair and shoes and told him that he used to stink. To top it all, Arjun had a little speech problem, where the words that came out of his mouth didn’t sound that clear. They mocked him on that too. Some of the other classmates tried stopping these bullies, some even complained about them to the teacher but nothing stopped these brats. No matter how much we tried to cheer Arjun, the words of those mean boys were stuck in his head like a leech. He was scared to come to school and was mostly found crying in a corner.
The bullying got to him and he started deteriorating in his studies. His scores fell and he ultimately failed the class. The next year onwards, we never saw him again. He changed schools and took admission in a free, government school.
He had the right to get his education in a good school like ours but he couldn’t. The opportunity literally came into his hands but was snatched away soon after. And why? Just because a bunch of school bullies wanted to have a little fun at the expense of someone else?
Bullying in school is a systematic problem that affects all school districts. One must not know or might not realize, but bullying is definitely prevalent in all educational institutions.
There are three prominent kinds of bullying: Direct bullying, Indirect bullying, and Cyberbullying. Within these categories lie, verbal, physical, social or relational bullying.
Direct bullying is when both verbal and physical kind of bullying is combined. Verbal bullying involves spoken comments or written information that is emotionally damaging to targeted students. Physical bullying consists of physically harming a student and their possessions.
Indirect bullying is mainly verbal and is experienced frequently in schools. An example of such a behavior can be recognized when a student is spreading false information about another student with the sole intent to cause humiliation.
The rise of technology also plays a role in bullying. It has very keenly taken bullying to the internet. Cyberbullying is when students use email or social media platforms like Facebook to write damaging content.
Students who are bullied often feel threatened and powerless. Bullying can have a very long and lasting effect on a person’s mental health. A new study has found out that children who were constantly harassed and bullied when they were about 8 years old were way more likely to develop a psychiatric disorder that required treatment as an adult, compared to the kids who were not bullied.
The scientists have also found strong evidence that being bullied as a child puts kids at high risk for depression as a young adult. The findings suggested that being victimized by bullying in the early stages of life can increase the risk of depressive disorders that need psychiatric treatment later in life.
Bullying during formative school years can also have grave and long-lasting effects. Students who suffer from bullying have a very high chance of having poor academic performance as their interest and participation in school decreases. Not only this but unexplained injuries, as well as self-destructive behavior, can also occur in children.
Emotional effects include struggles with low self-esteem, insomnia, depression, and suicidal thoughts and actions. In addition to all these psychiatric problems, children who are bullied are twice as likely to suffer from health issues, such as stomach pain or headaches.
Bullying not only impacts the targeted students, but it also affects their family and close friends very much. The friends and family feel powerless and confused. They don’t understand how to deal with the situation and before anyone knows it, they start blaming themselves for whatever is happening with their closed one. It goes to a point where parents or other family members of the bullying targets may experience depression, anxiety, and stress-related illnesses. Some parents become overprotective of their children if they feel that they “failed” to protect them. Friends and classmates of the student who is bullied may feel helpless. They may also feel powerless knowing that it is going to be difficult and there is very little that they can do. They might feel guilty that they could not stand up for their friend while he was being bullied. And the main thing that they are usually afraid of is, what if they become the next target?!
Most school-aged children are unfortunately exposed to bullying in some form or the other, due to the unequal balance of power and influence. This inequality of power is extremely common in youth relationships and peer groups. Researches all around have shown that bullying and harassment in schools increase in late childhood age and tends to peaks in early adolescence, specifically during middle school. It usually takes place in unstructured settings such as the cafeteria, hallways, and playground during recess.
Students need and want their schools to be a positive climate where they can feel safe. This helps them in reducing their own stress and potential aggression and allows them to focus on their learning which is extremely necessary for them to be successful in their lives.
Fortunately, there are various actions that students and school staff can take and they are continuously taking these steps to prevent bullying and harassment in schools so as to create a more positive school climate. The culture of school violence cannot be affected by only working with bullies and the victims. It takes consistent effort and united action by everyone in the school — students, school staff, administrators, and parents.