Bullying at school can be controlled

Bullying at school can be controlled

This is with reference to the report ‘School promises strict action in torture case’ (Jan 26). It seems quite plausible to say that the more people have written about bullyism in educational insti-tutions, the more it has been overlooked. The recent incident of bullyism at an elite school in Lahore proves that our students have not been sensitised about the menace of bullyism and its traumatic impact on the victims.

Actually, in the pursuit of elitist snobbery and adventurism, elite schools facetiously reckon skirmishes among students a part and parcel of academic life. At public schools, teachers’ apathy regarding bullyism has plummeted to an all-time low. Out of numerous individual and structural reasons, one is the tendency on the part of the teachers to keep themselves aloof from frictions and conflicts among the students. They hush up the matter, asking the victims to avoid the bullies. Secondly, and structurally, they are helpless because government educational policies are silent on punishing or rusticating the bullies.

There is no chance of teachers not being aware of the aggressive behaviour of such students. They just prefer to look the other way at the tell-tale signs of recalcitrant attitude in certain students. Why? The whole rub lies in the answer to this interrogative exclamation.

Private institutions value education as a merchandise. Even if such bullies are reported to the school management concerned, the latter is reluctant to take any action against them. In fact, all efforts are aimed at somehow simply sweeping the matter under the rug.

When teachers report bullying to the management, it prefers to dilly-dally the matter, encouraging the teachers to ignore such students. In the recent incident in Lahore, had it not been recorded and posted on the social media where it went viral, the bullies would have gone scot free. That is precisely what happens in most such cases, leaving more and more students vulnerable to violence.

In the presence of such miscreants, school life becomes miserable for the students. Sometimes the victims do not share their trauma even with their parents, and internalise such an agonising experience that eventually results in psychological aberrations. It also affects adversely the victims’ studies and attendance at school.

The viral video showing the bullies sitting astride the victim was enough to send shivers down one’s spine, and brought to mind the “I can’t breathe” helplessness in the final words of the man who was killed by a chokehold in the United States, which led to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. It was hard for any parent to merely watch the video in full without feeling the pain, anguish and helplessness of the poor girl. It was nothing short of horrible.

The apathy of the school management and the spinelessness of teachers give bullies a sort of carte blanche to commit such inhumanity. A teacher backed by the management can easily rein in the bullies. In contrast, a teacher devoid of any say in such matters fails to nip such tendencies in the bud. The failure to address such complaints early emboldens the bullies.

Children learn to become aggressive at home. Parents’ ignorance of their children’s aggressiveness leads to a violent streak in the latter. So, first of all parents should be held responsible if their child gets rusticated from school for bullying.

It has been proven by many a research that mental or behavioural bullying precedes the physical one. Before being physical, bullies put the victims to mental torture and deterrence by trolling, threatening, calling nicknames and snatching the belongings of victims.

Vigilant parents and empowered teachers can together stem the rot. Yes, they can. Wholesome moral nourishment can save our younger ones, who would sooner or later find that the more we hate ourselves — indicating low self-esteem — the more we want others to suffer. That is what bullying actually is.

Courtesy: Published at Pakistan Today on March 5, 2023