I remember Amit vididly, a star of my tenth standard Maths class. Why, he was the apple of every one’s eye. Looking smart, well groomed and fit, he was the single child of very high profile, educated and fairly rich parents. He was good in everything from taking care of the class to collecting notebooks for the teacher ..any such thing which are often needed by the teachers He was well behaved and scored good marks. He had a very thick friend, Bhaskar, who was surprisingly exactly opposite to him. He was very skinny, nervous, very average in studies, and belonged to a very lower income group. Both of them were in separable friends from their KG class. That was a long friendship of about twelve years.
Just around February,the science practical journals, of the students are to be certified by the corresponding teachers before the Board examination. Collecting, then certifying everything went fine. But when the biology journal of Amit came back certified, and as he opened it he screamed making all the children to rush to him. All the eight pages of his biology journal,where drawings were drawn to perfection and the teacher had written “Good work” was ripped in the centre.
Everyone felt pity for him.Bhaskar cried miserably cursing the one who had done this . Finally, as there was not much time left for the examination, the class children helped him by drawing the difficult biology drawings of the systems of dissected frog, earth worm ,rat etc in a new journal and gave to the biology teacher for certification. As I was the class teacher I made a special request to the Biology teacher for certifying the journal a second time and she agreed to check back and certify again.
After three days the journal was brought back. You won’t believe it ! The journal was again ripped, exactly in the same way, across the diagrams.
Now it was not just the question of completing the journal but it became our duty to find, who is that child who had done this criminal act, when the journal is safely brought from the teacher to the class? Secondly, why was this done only to Amit when he was the best boy in the class loved by every one? As the class teacher it became my responsibility to do the CID job and find out the wolf hiding in the crowd.
Then finally, when we did find him and the reason he said for doing it shocked everyone..
As in most schools, most children finished their lunch as fast they could and rushed out to the ground for playing. I picked four girls and boys from the class and told them that any two of them should always stay back in the class and observe Amit and anyone who interacts with him. After a week, I got the feedback. It was unbelievable for me. To confirm what I learnt, I called a few students in random from the class and asked their opinion about Amit. They were too hesitant to talk but with lot of encouragement they all said the same story about Amit.
The shocking fact revealed was the well behaved, A-grader, ready to help Amit was really a bully when the teacher was not around. He bullied everyone in the class. He snatched their new pen or pencil box or new notebook anything just for the heck of it. When they tried to resist he used his power saying that he would include their names in the black list ( a list where the class monitor writes the name of children who had failed to submit home work, or who had disturbed the class etc) “Whose word do you think the teacher will believe?”, he had said. Forced by his closeness to all teachers, and his reputation for being an excellent student and prize winner, and a rich affluent boy..everyone silently tolerated him.
Surprisingly, the worst affected boy was his dear friend Bhaskar himself. Bhaskar, while bad at studies was actually good at badminton. But Amit would not allow him to play or cheat saying he had lost. A bit more argument, he had also hit Bhaskar. He made Bhaskar carry his school bag, wash his lunch box and some time even brush his shoes after PT. He often teased him about his old shirt and shoes. But many classmates, knowing Bhaskar’s friendship actually thought Bhaskar loved doing all this for him! After all, he was Amit’s best friend.. as Amit himself had proclaimed many times.
After all this, there was little left for doubt. Bhaskar was called and without much provocation he confessed that he had done it. He said that the bulying had been goingfor a long time. He had been unable to take the daily torture and ridicule. He wanted to see that Amit fail in the exam so that his pride would be killed. So he decided the best way to hurt the perfect Amit was to make him fail in SSC. He thought if the Journal is not completed he would fail in practical Examination and that would make him fail in Board exam. He chose to rip the Biology journal because the drawings were too difficult and he could never redraw and submit them in time.
When Amit was called , he stood stunned. Bhaskar was his best friend. He always teased him but , just in jest..he did not know it was bothering him so much. Yes, he said that he had done some of them but it was just for fun!!
The fact is that Amit never understood that what he was doing was wrong. He had not even understood the depth of pain and greif his bulying was causing! The teacher’s trust, too much appreciation had gone into his head and he had become too arrogant. Further, similar behaviour was continued in his family background. H ehad seen orders being barked to maids and drivers. He had begun to think of it as the norm.. that he had a right to do so.
Baskar was oppressed for such a long time. It is possible that some time he had made a few attempts to complain about Amit to some teacher but he was not heard. The long suppressed suffering, humiliation and lack of justice had turned into anger which pushed him to a criminal edge to stealthily enter the Biology laboratory when no one is watching and rip the notebook two times hardly thinking about the consequence if he is caught.
We called the parents of both the boys. As I said earlier both the parents were too shocked unable to believe that their boys could have done this. We advised them to send their children for professional counselling to our school councillors, after their Board examination ends. It was a very sad end to what used to be a beautiful friendship between two boys.
If you are a parent or a grandparent or a teacher what would you do avoid this situation? Would you say Bhaskar was wrong or Amit was wrong? Was it the mistake of Amit’s parents to pamper him with all luxuries because he was academically excellent and not notice his arrogance? Or is the mistake of teachers that just because they saw only his well behaved face and sterling results?
Why do students put up with bullying?
How would you as a parent figure out if your kid is a bully or being bullied in class, if he doesn’t come home and tell you on his own?
What would you as a teacher do to expose incidences of bullying in your classroom?
Please post your valuable responses on this. I would be delighted to hear your views.
My next blog will give you my perspective on how to avoid another Amit or Bhaskar in the making?