Radha (name changed), age 12, was often patronised for being a quota student and manhandled by her strict convent school seniors. Her worst nightmare soon became a reality when she was cornered in the school bathroom and bullied for being poor and unhygienic. She and her family were called names; and to top it all, she was forced to lick her seniors’ shoes. A few days later, Radha committed suicide.
Case #2: Imtiaz (name changed), age 10, was constantly mocked and mimicked by his own classmates for being dyslexic. After a few months of bearing this intolerable behaviour by his classmates, Imtiaz’s parents filed a complaint against them. As a result, he was dismissed from his school for not being able to ‘fit in’. Imtiaz is now home-schooled.
Case #3: Mohit (name changed), age 13, was cornered by a group of classmates in the washroom who committed illegal sexual acts on him including touching his private parts. He was teased for being thin and weak, and because he was ‘too shy.’ After filing a compliant against the bullies, he faced even more intimidation. In fact, bullying impacted him so much so that he had stopped talking to family, friends, exhibited indifferent attitude and his school grades dropped significantly. Mohit was recently diagnosed with a Type-A cluster personality disorder.
Radha, Imtiaz and Mohit are among a third of all students aged between 10 and 18, who reported having been bullied at school globally. This statistic was first listed by the US-based National Center for Education Statistics in 2007. Sadly, these numbers have only escalated in India over the last couple of years.
“School bullying has become a menace in India and many cases have been identified and reported. Recall the incident that involved a Sikh child who was been bullied because of his turban, or the Kolkata-boy who was locked up in the school bathroom, or the case of a video made in a Delhi school,” says Kamna Yadav, clinical psychologist at ePsyClinic.com, Delhi.
How does one become a bully?
Why are children involved in acts that harm other kids? Why do they bully? The answer lies in the fact that they themselves have been bullied and they are more likely to have serious physical or mental health problems. “Exposure to violent behavior at home, media, lack of social values, parental monitoring, bad role model act as contributing factors,” says Yadav.
Let’s understand that children have developing and fragile mindsets. Whatever the child notices becomes a dominant part of their learning map and that is implicitly found in their behaviour. Both bullies and the children being bullied develop negative patterns.
“Bullies tend to have broken relationships, ineffective communication and unhealthy emotional patterns, which leads to estranged relationships with their children and spouses. The children being bullied tend to suffer more physically into adulthood. They are more likely to smoke regularly, suffer from ill-health and in extreme cases may also suffer from psychological disorders,” says Shroff.