Photo Courtesy: Washington Pave

Dealing with bullying in schools and how it often starts at home

Aggressive actions, like snatching pencils and toys from others, to using abusive language in schools are considered as bullying.  Such behaviors cannot be brushed as ‘small things happening among small kids’ because these small things will lead to bigger problems as they grow up.

In order to prevent children to turning into bullies, most schools are conducting various preventive programs, and anti-bullying is one of them.

Chief counsellor of Career Education and Counselling Division, Reena Thapa, said there is bullying happening in the schools, however, they can’t say to what degree or severity the bullying is happening in the schools.

Bullying depends on the class level and age level. When it comes to small children at the primary level, snatching a pencil from another child every day is also a form of bullying.

Reena Thapa said if bullying happens in the schools, they call both the parties to negotiate, and try to find out why that person is a bully and what support is required.

She said, “We treat someone who bullies like goons, but they are also in need of support like the victims.”

All parents must understand that when their child is being bullied or if their child is bullying, the one who is bullying needs support too and not  punishment. Both the perpetrator and the victim need support. She said a child bullying another child is not doing it intentionally, rather he or she must have grown up like that or must have been bullied by someone when younger.  It is important to know the back story of a bully.

Most of the time, parents complain to their class teachers when their child is bullied and also, there have been incidents where parents have hit the bullies or charged them directly.

It is important to understand why children become bullies. Reena Thapa explained the adverse effect on a child’s growth pyramid. At the lower base of the pyramid, if children at a young age are exposed to violence, abuse, or are victims of domestic violence and abuse and if children are raised in these situations, it is likely that a child will develop all those characteristics. They feel that it is okay to do it.

A child will grow up with cognitive impairment, become anti-social, and adopt risky behavior. When a child adopts risky behavior then they are being punished or scolded by their parents and teachers all the time, and that’s when a child will get into trouble all the time and indulge in drugs and alcohol and also can’t perform well in school.

And at the end, a child is likely to be a dysfunctional adult. So, therefore, schools are trying to create awareness among smaller children.

She said parents have a greater role to play, so as to prevent children from getting exposed to violence and abuse at a young age. What people think is when parents are violent at home, children will be heartbroken but that is not true, it will affect them more than that leading to damaging them cognitively, psychologically, emotionally, and socially, she added.

Currently, in all secondary schools, counsellors conduct anti-bullying awareness. Reena Thapa said, “We wish to have such programs at the lowest level starting from pre-primary, but there are no counselors for the primary schools.” However, teachers can create awareness by reminding regularly with some common examples in the schools, such as a child that snatches others’ pencils is also a bully, although it is not severe but this will turn into severe as they grow up.

Meanwhile, the Pema Centre will also work on anti-bullying programs and mechanisms in institutes, schools, and colleges. According to the survey in the schools, 27 percent of the students are experiencing bullying, and according to another individual research carried out in collaboration with some of the institutes outside, 36 percent of the college students experience bullying.

So, therefore, it not only needs programs and advocacies but also a mechanism to address the issue in schools and colleges.

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