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A thorough inquisition into the Social stigma we call BULLYING

* Bully (verb) – use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something.

Bullying was never seen as something harmful or hurtful, but something that happens in every school and college and a very “obvious” thing to happen to anyone. But what if bullying wasn’t as playful and light as it seemed? What if it was something grievous that left a scar forever?

Bullying is not some fun game or a “tradition” that every student, school or college, has to go through. It can lead to serious psychological conditions where the victim goes through a phase of low self esteem, low confidence, depression, anxiety, all leading to suicidal tendencies where cases of bullying are extreme. Bullying may seem fun to the bully, and just a momentary thing, but to the victim, it can be something that can leave a scar forever.

Well there can also be a different side of the story where the bully is actually a victim who in-turn becomes a bully because they are crying out for authority and attention which he or she is not getting because they themselves are being bullied.

People just don’t become bullies. There’s always a story on how and why a person is the way he/she is.  Disturbed childhood, excessive control by parents, abuse or harassment by family or friends can fall as reasons for a person to become a bully. Let’s go back to the definition of bully. So, (to) bully is to use ‘superior strength’ or influence to ‘intimidate’ someone, ‘forcing’ them to do something.  Like I said, people just don’t become bullies. Well if you see the definition, there’s use of superior strength by the bully. The bully obviously doesn’t use his strength on someone stronger but someone weaker and that is because he or she has never experienced what it is to feel important or superior. The fact that he or she needs to show strength or control over someone shows that the child has been kept “caged” or trapped and this is how they shows their emotions and try to find their identity which they had lost somewhere due to the situations they had faced. Maybe the child doesn’t get to exercise his or her free will which is the birthright to any individual- both young and old. It may even include not having to choose his or her favourite colour. The parents might have been too authoritative which is not the best way to healthy parenting. Maybe the child was instructed way too much that he had no voice in the family. To grow into a normal, analytic individual, the child needs his freedom and space to grow. If that is taken away, they lose their identity and start looking for themselves through ways which are not very reasonable or ethically wrong – like bullying. Bullying might seem like a social stigma, but it all starts from the family.

 A recent study by research agency IMRB and ParentCircle, has revealed that every third child is bullied in school. The pan-India study covered 2,700 respondents, with parents and children in equal number.

To help understand bullying and motives of bullying in more detail, psychologist Anuja Kapur of Delhi explains four major traits of bullying conduct:

  1. Intentional: According to Ms Kapur, school bullies are deliberate in their intent to cause others harm. Sometimes kids hurt others by accident. Bullying, however, is a deliberate act carried out by individuals with a specific agenda in mind -to cause physical or mental harm.
  2. Hurtful: Ms Kapur classifies bullying as a ‘negative behavior’ which may entail physical abuse, verbal abuse, exclusion, slander or other negative activity to cause physical, mental or emotional harm.
  3. Repetitive: Most bullying victims suffer from repeated incidences throughout the school year or even for several consecutive years. In some cases, children had been targets from the time they were in middle school to their high school years. If victims don’t report abuse and do nothing to escape abuse, it may continue for a long time.
  4. Imbalance of power: By definition, bullying generally involves an imbalance of power with the bully having dominance over his or her victim. This imbalance could be due to age, physical strength, social status, intellect, etc.

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In exploring what causes bullying and why people bully, Indian psychologists and counselors have come up with the following theories:

  • Children and teens who experience bullying behavior at home may feel justified emulating that same behavior at school with their peers. They use bullying as a defense mechanism to avoid being subjected to bullying themselves.
  • A child’s exposure to friends, TV, social media and the Internet may influence his or her behavior prompting bullying. Cultural norms, social values and puberty may also affect a child’s actions.
  • Some bullies come from a home environment where children lack parental guidance and supervision. In many Indian households, both parents work, making it difficult for them to spend quality time with their kids. Parents often count on schools to provide their kids with both academic and moral training. Children may resort to abusive bullying behavior to get the attention they seek.
  • India is home to an extremely competitive academic society. A child or teen doing poorly in school may bully a bright child out of resentment. In like manner, bright children may bully those of lesser intelligence or economic status simply to lord their success over them.

Bullying issues during childhood may cause victims to develop health problems that affect their sleep, work or social habits later on in life. In cases of long-term bullying, a child or teen may require professional counselling to overcome bullying effects so they can move on.

Young students who are bullied may develop trust issues with their peers, making it hard to establish friendships or relationships. Lack of trust can turn victims into loners. Young victims isolate themselves for protection against hurt and harm, but in actuality, they’re missing out on the fun and excitement of socialising with others. Isolation can lead to loneliness and increased risk of suicide, especially among young students. Many students start skipping classes or drop out of school altogether to escape their plight.

Victims, however, are not the only ones who suffer from bullying. Bullies also have their share of problems. Bullying behavior as a child or teen can lead to more serious offenses in adulthood. Once bullies establish an abusive habit, it can be difficult to stop. Such behavior can hinder a person’s chances of success in the future. When they go to work places or places where they need to socialise and they end up bullying people, would cause a lot of problem. Not only do the victims need help, but so do the bullies, in order to know what exactly made them that way and to help them for a better future.

In traditional Indian society, extended families lived together and the older generation (grandparents) helped share the load of raising their grandchildren. Today, many Indian couples live with their kids on their own, meaning parents have to bear greater responsibility for the care and education of their family. As such, parents are more accountable to protect their kids from bullies.

In addition to overseeing their children’s education, Indian parents need to monitor their social calendar and behavior to ensure they’re not showing signs of being bullied or being a bully.

A few common signs of a bully can be:

  • A lot of aggression
  • Easily irritable and has low tolerance
  • Bully as a victim can also have bruises or marks
  • Watches a lot of aggressive shows on television and you can see the child adopting the behaviours shown in the shows like fighting.
  • Emotionally unstable
  • Might seem a bit “off” than someone usual due to the instability

 

A few signs as a victim of bullying can be:

  • Repeated bruises or marks on the body
  • Doesn’t want to go to school or college like he/she used to
  • Scared all the time
  • Sad or worried all the time
  • Demands increase more than usual( more branded stuffs)

 

Now we know the causes, the motives or intentions and also the signs as to help the victim and the bully. Let us now go over to a few reports about bullying.

 Violent reports of bullying have been received from schools in both rural and urban areas. Even top schools with wards from the echelon of society have suffered from the violent effects of bullying attacks. From primary schools to the university level, school bullying has become a major threat to India’s educational standard –

Groupism, one of the latest bullying techniques, involves groups of students ganging up on classmates who they consider different. Sometimes these differences are physical, such as a child being ‘too fat, too tall or too thin’ by the group’s standards. A child may be targeted for belonging to a different religion, economic background or social standing.

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