“Bullying that’s limited to friendly leg-pulling can be good as long as it doesn’t rub the self-esteem of the child. Such kind of bullying can help children to interact with those having diverse points of view. That’s why it’s often said a little bit of ragging is good for breaking the ice. But prolonged bullying and image tarnishing can be demeaning.” Counseling psychologist, Saloni Priya. Here’s an example of rubbish coming from an “educated person”. If India were to start producing “psychologists” who were to provide such statements to newspapers then we are doomed as a country, there is no hope in our lives.
Bullying is defined as; the use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something. There’s absolutely nothing positive about making someone feel inferior. There is no such thing as “acceptable” bullying. The human race tends to divert from the true meaning of terms and interpret them as they like and publicly draw conclusions. The fact of the matter is that bullying is wrong-period; it’s an unhealthy phenomenon for both the bully and the victim.
Indians for a very long time have been living in a rather under educated bubble, that recognizes domination as heroism. The only way out of things sometimes is portrayed to be aggression; aggression is a form of bullying. There is never a movie or a cartoon that portrays the victim confronting the bully, trying to resolve it in a humanistic manner. The only solution is to hit them back, call back names, manipulate, blackmail, lie, cheat & deceive, use foul language, hurt the feelings of others and those around without caring. This is an epidemic spreading faster every month. With the presence of internet, bullying has gone to another level. India now is the third on the worlds list of cyber bullying. And we shouldn’t be surprised, even in educated homes children are taught to hit back and not complain or even think of a better solution to resolve issues with school bullying, college bullying or even bullying taking place at offices. It’s not an issue of who is physically stronger. The children have accepted that if you’re not strong enough physically you can’t survive. The emphasis here is on physical dominance not emotional health and definitely not intellectual ability.
Agreed that students need to toughen up a little to face the world, they will not forever dwell in the same premises as they did when they were children. Rough experiences happen in everyone’s life, there are various ways of learning confrontation, the art of communication, and being emotionally strong. Bullying shouldn’t be one of them. Children will face issues with friends, problems at home, death of loved ones and just the information from the newspapers is enough crime reality for the child. But to teach him, that these bullies are present for you to grow strong is just lame.
Students come into counseling on regular basis not because someone is bullying them, but because no one has taught him to deal with any issues. We can’t possibly wait for the student to be bullied or take his own life out of frustration to wake up and take a stand, and remarks like bullying being good, just make it worse.
One of the funny things arising from research and comments is where to draw the line? A child is incapable of full rational and emotional thought anyway. And if adults are going to say that to an extent it’s good to get bullied, then who is showing the limit. It would be easier to nip in the bud than wait for it to get out of control. First of all it’s the bully who has initiated the bullying, so how is the victim supposed to magically put a stop to it when it’s “out of limits”. There can be no acceptable limits to a crime. Also, every child will have a different level of patience, we are just confusing the bully here. How is the bully supposed to know when it’s getting to the serious point? One victim might be fine till verbal assaults; other might be okay with getting smacked across his face. Children don’t need grey area, children need black and white.
It’s understandable that parents want to make their children independent, especially independent enough to handle their own issues at least at school level. And it is crucial that children learn that, but who is going to teach them that?, it’s easy to say that the child should realize XYZ and the child should realize RST but with dwindling moral values, reduction in moral science classes, increased focus on academics, the schools don’t have time for character development. Teachers are stressed, special education needs are increasing, parents don’t have time, schools don’t value psychologists, the country doesn’t have a board that recognizes the many passionate majors in Psychology, what solution are we providing?
Children can learn to interact and accept point of views of others without having to become bullies or get bullied. Various methods at classroom level can be employed for developing what the IB calls ‘international mindedness’, there are books that can be read, there are videos that can be watched, discussions can take place, circle time in class. All of these options and more are better than bullying. The problem also is that; there is a level of selfish mindedness in the part of parents too. As long as it’s not their child they’re fine. And many a times bullying is being reinforced via media, domestic violence, or simply when the child comes home with a heroic story of how he hit a kid at school because he called him ‘stupid’. These are not educated ways of living, response is secondary. The first start, the initiation itself is the issue.
Children in their late childhood are also unable to understand the concept of self-esteem or self-worth. Parents and even teachers aren’t aware of this concept clearly, they don’t understand the significance and the long term effects of self-esteem problems. Some students don’t mind the ‘leg pulling’ initially, but after a time, they go through some mood swings or if they’re having a bad day they suddenly decide that they’re over it, and don’t want to be the source of entertainment. This victim was not previously a victim, but since there were no boundaries set from the very beginning, he’s getting affected adversely. These victims live with added guilt that they were also enablers in the process of bullying, and now reacting negatively to it will make them look irrational. Their friends won’t appreciate this sudden change; a lot of confusion will arise. All this mess is created because leg pulling was never healthy in the first place, but was tolerated.
We are human beings, and if we’re not going to be considerate about the feelings that each human being carries then there’s no point. There is no reason for us to believe we can bully someone in order to toughen them up to face the world. The world has bullies because of this attitude. The world is filled with criminals, selfish people, because moral values weren’t instilled. What is wrong is wrong from the very beginning that it starts, and one bad act only gives rise to a bigger bad act.
Bullying is not the issues of the decade; it has always been in existence, in India however it has been a very famous and acceptable way of dealing with issues. Children more than anyone else need to be protected, and given a safe environment for learning, if they feel the adults all expect the children to be bullied for a “better tomorrow” the child will never be able to voice his concerns. We shouldn’t put the burden of adulthood, on the shoulders of a child. We instead should take the responsibility as adults to educate the schools of India about the harmful effects of bullying and other violent acts.
Just like children are prepared for a fire drill, they should be prepared consciously for dealing with bullying. The fire shouldn’t strike first; the education should take place first. No one waits for the fire to take over the school so that the children can be “self-sufficient” and organise themselves, and find a way out of the school. It is a lazy excuse for not wanting to be pro-active. Children too can be prepared to stand up for themselves; they don’t require a bully to teach them that, they require the schools and parents to do that. Many victims turn into bullies themselves, as they find it the best solution to their problem. The one whose leg was casually pulled, and was mocked by friends, will retaliate with bigger jokes, this will not end up with everyone feeling empowered, but instead it will lead to splitting of friendships and other relationships. All because the Indian people sat there believing that instead turning the other cheek you give back a punch.
If Adults were to start making such excuses, and saying things like little bit of bullying is good, without actually providing any means of measuring it, we are just making a loud fool of ourselves in front of the kids. The kids need to learn conflict resolution not conflict exaggeration.