According to a recent survey conducted in 150 schools in Mumbai and Thane by the Parents Teachers Association United Forum, 70 percent of students experience bullying in school, but only 20 to 40 percent report it.This is indicative of the malaise that has spread across schools in urban India. The ParentEdge editorial team spoke to Dr. Jaishri Ramakrishnan, consultant psychologist and member of ParentEdge’s Panel of Experts. Dr. Ramakrishnan has over three decades of experience working closely with children.
From what age is bullying a serious concern? Have you seen instances of bullying in young children at school?
Bullying can start as early as the toddler stage when the toddler bullies his younger sibling. Outside the home, bullying is seen even in kindergarten or Grade One. We should also be aware that bullying can happen outside the home, in places other than school — for example, even in apartment buildings, and among children in the neighbourhood.
What forms does bullying take? Are boys and girls equally susceptible to bullying? Is the kind of bullying different in boys and girls?
Bullying can take place in verbal and nonverbal forms. Verbal bullying occurs when someone uses language to gain power over his or her peers. The verbal bully makes use of relentless insults and teasing; for instance, he may make fun of a peer’s lack of physical or academic capabilities, or for being a ‘book worm’ or a ‘nerd’ or call someone names based on appearance. Verbal bullies, though common, are difficult to identify since their attacks are not visible to
adults. Even though verbal bullying creates no physical damage, this type of abuse can have lasting psychological impact on the bullied.
One form of non-verbal bullying is physical assault, either in a group or individually; it is often used as a means of exhibiting physical superiority.
Another form of non-verbal bullying is when teenagers use body language to intimidate without physical force – they may roll their eyes or make faces when a particular child approaches the group or asks a question in class.
Both girls and boys are equally susceptible to bullying these days. Physical abuse is more common in boys, while girls mostly use verbal bullying. Also, while some forms of bullying are obvious, others are subversive. For example,
some children may try to isolate one child from the peer group.
Why does a child who is bullied not report to school or to parents until the situation becomes unmanageable?