As we delved in to Amit and Bhaskar’s story in the last blog, we know that Bullying is a growing epidemic.. inside and outside school, in the bus and in the playground, becoming worse in colleges as ragging which sometimes ends up in suicide of the victim. The most damaging aspect of bullying is the repetition. Bullies are often relentless, bullying over and over again for long periods of time. The victim lives in constant fear of where and when the bully will strike next, what they’ll do, and how far they’ll go. The fear, humiliation and rage , at it tipping point range from suicide to criminal actions like what Bhaskar did in my last story.
As a parent:
Signs that your child may be a bully:
- Watch your child’s behaviour when he is talking to your help like a maid, cook, drivers. Is he talking in a rude manner commanding orders to them?
- Observe if he has a tendency to get into physical or verbal fights with others. Is quick to blame others?
- Is he very competitive and needs to win or be the best at everything?
- Make it a point to meet some of his classmates and find out about their opinions. If your child is attending some sports activity outside the school get the opinion of them about the behaviour of your child in a group
- Check his school bags/pockets for extra money or new belongings that cannot be explained
What to do if your child is a bully:
Educate your child about bullying. Your child, like Amit may have difficulty reading social signs or may not understand how hurtful and damaging their behavior can be. Foster empathy and awareness making kindness a top priority in the house.
If your kid is academically very strong or a sports star, certainly feel proud of his achievements…but make sure that the child uses that as a mentorship opportunity, not a reason to gloat. Help your child help someone weaker than him in that area and then appreciate him for having helped someone else succeed.
Unfortunately in today’s rat race world, parents themselves encourage selfishness and may be setting a bad example by displaying bullying behavior by hitting a child (sending a message, a person with power can strike the weaker), swearing at other drivers on the road (ok to use bad language if things are not going your way) and , yelling at maids shop assistant, or cab driver (differentiating as per social standing). Parents, watch what you do!
Signs that your child may be bullied:
Bullying victims will often cover up because of a sense of shame at being victimized or fear of the bully.
- Refusal to go to school/ climb on the bus/ a particular class
- Imaginary/ vague complaints ; moody behaviour
- Withdrawing from friend circles
- Showing irritation for praise/success for a particular classmate
What to do if your child is a being bullied:
- Bullies typically pick on the “different” child. So whether it is an extremely emotional kid who cries easily or a fat one or one that is a bookworm or one from a lower economic background. It is very important to tell your child don’t blame yourself. It is not your fault. No matter what someone says or does, you should not be ashamed of who you are or what you feel. Be proud of who you are.
- Here is an image to remind kids about dealing with bullying
- Regularly talk to your child about what wonderful qualities he has. (Good behavior/ respecting elders/helping peers/specific skills). Tell them to keep those in mind instead of the messages they hear from bullies.
- Help them. Encourage your child to be DEAL WITH IT HIMSELF. Tell him to be strong to report to the teacher, the bus representative or the sports teacher. If he thinks that he is not being heard, tell him to form a group of the victims and report to the teacher. There are always more than once victims of a bully. A group would definitely give a positive response.
- Learn to deal with the irritation/torture.Meditate, ignore and practice breathing exercises to deal with the stress so they don’t feel overwhelmed by bullying.
As a teacher:
With large class strength and pressure of correcting papers, completing curriculum , it is very easy to be absorbed with the teaching part. But remember to the kid in your class, your are their Hero, their champion. It’s about protecting your students and their right to learn and enjoy school without being threatened, ridiculed and picked on. It’s about stepping in and saying, “I’m your teacher, and you will not be bullied. Not my student.”
- Promise your students that if ever they’re bullied, they can talk to you privately and you will never reveal their names. They can slide you a note or ask if they can speak to you at lunch break or after school.
- Keep an eye on students who are socially awkward, smaller in stature, or less confident. Be aware of those students who have few friends, who are stay alone frequently, or who get left out of project groups. They are often, though not always, most likely to be bullied. Give importance to them by assigning them the work of collecting note books or making them row monitor
- Talk to some students about the behaviour of your head boys. The sports and arts teachers are the best to locate the bullies as they work under condition where the students are not tied to their bench. PT teachers should encourage the weak boys also to participate instead of pushing them into a corner.
Bullying is violence. Remind kids to never put up with bullying or stay quiet watching injustice. Remember, we as parents and teachers tend to focus on education and success. We need to make kindness, empathy and inner strength become more important as we raise kids in this quickly evolving world.
Please leave a comment with strategies that may have worked or any thoughts you have to share.
Thanks for reading. See you in my next blog this Wednesday!