Bullying mostly occurs at school. It can occur in the following forms:
Sexual harassment (e.g. Sexual abuse involving unwanted physical contact)
Ridiculing and ostracizing
Ragging(which of late has been strictly banned)
Children subjected to bullying often suffer from it because:
They are afraid of retaliation
They fear that they would not be believed,
They are not confident that anything would change if they complain
They think that their parents' or teacher's advice would make the problem worse and
They are afraid that people will call them tattlers
The students, who witness bullying feels the same. They all agree that bullying is wrong but rarely intervene on behalf of the victim. They fear that they could become the next target.
In any bullying act there is a victim, the ringleader, assistant bullies (they join in), reinforcers (they provide an audience or laugh with or encourage the bully), outsiders (they stay away or take no sides) and defenders (they step in, stick up for or comfort the victim).
There are some common symptoms despite country and cultural differences:
Bullying more often takes place at school.
Girls tend to bully girls, while boys bully both boys and girls.
Studies indicate that boys are more likely to bully than girls.
Bullies often do not operate alone. Bullying does not end in elementary school. Middle school seems to provide ample opportunities for bullying, although at lesser rates. The same is true for the beginning years of high school.
It continues up to the early adolescent period of both boys and girls.
How can we prevent bullying ?
Keep communication channels open. Parents, school faculty and other adults should listen to their children and be available to talk to them.
Be alert reagrding the symptoms of strange behaviours. As parents, teachers and adults you need to closely watch symptoms of withdrawal, disinterest or unwillingness to go to school and fear among children.
Teach children to respect others. The phrase ?do unto others as you would have others to do unto you? sums it all up.
Schools should reward students, who show respect for peers and adults. Establish a clear reporting system for any violations in the school.
Have house meetings /classroom meetings (circle time) wherein good behavior is appreciated and speak to the students about their conscience during such meetings. Talk about some case studies and get them to analyse behaviour. Monitor student?s body language and observe the reaction post discussion. Do a thorough follow up and help the students.
Form an anti -bullying club and encourage students to confide in council members. Complete confidentiality should be maintained.
The school counselor must be actively involved. Bullying in schools can be prevented, or at least marginalized, initially, and done away with completely if there is consistency in the approach.