It’s proven yet again that bullying exists and not just in high school! It prevails in all schools, be it a highly ranked school or not.
The bullying incident captured by a student at Modern School , that has gone viral shows 6th grade students of Modern School, Vasant Vihar bullying another student, as other students cheer them on. This particular incident happened at Modern School, but we know this happens in many schools.
The first tendency might be to determine where to place the blame – the School? the Parents? Society?
But when one watches a video such as this one, it raises two larger questions – “Why does this happen and what can we do to prevent it?” and “What should I do to prevent my child from being a victim of bullying?”
Either way, the ultimate responsibility of a child’s behaviour falls with the Parents.
In my professional opinion, two approaches are required: a short term fix – that require action from Schools, and Parents; and a longer-term solution, where the solution lies in a positive parenting approach.
Short Term Fix
In the current situation, the immediate proactive action has to come from the school authorities. Given that their priority must be to create safe environments where all children can thrive, socially, emotionally and academically, they might consider to:
1) Create and publicize zero-tolerance rules that deter bullying and hold bullies responsible. An example would be to have the bullies, publicly apologize for their behaviour.
2) Conduct regular experiential Life Skill sessions during which students and teachers explore and learn ways in which they can prevent bullying
3) Provide teachers with effective classroom-management training, as research suggests that classes containing students with behavioral, emotional, or learning problems will have more bullies and victims.
4) Proactively engage and partner with parents in acquiring the skills to counsel their kids in the prevention of bullying – either as becoming bullies or victims of it.
Long term Solution
A positive parenting approach empowers parents to address the longer term obligation to raise their children responsibly. To nip this bullying event in the bud, I suggest three steps:
1) Talk to your children about how bullying happens- start with a factual conversation about bullying [what it looks like so they can recognize it ] and chances are they have already experienced it personally or witnessed it. Talk about the actions and feelings associated with bullying.
2) Delve into the reason why bullying happens- talk about the psychological foundations of bullying-[why does a child bully and the profile of victims they pick on]. Bullying at its psychological core is a reflection of the bully’s lack of esteem and confidence, where he has a need to assert power over another to feel good about himself. A bully bullies, because it satisfies the need to feel important, in control, popular and express their emotions. Every child has an innate desire to feel loved, appreciated, in control and to be heard. Bullying is just the wrong way to get it.
So, what is the right way?
3) Our role as responsible parents requires us to meet this need in our children. The most effective way to do that is to be proactive and consistent with our attention, show of affection, understanding and encouragement. Along with this, it is vital that a child is taught the difference between right and wrong. Teaching them to be compassionate and helping them express their emotions including anger and frustration in healthier ways. You do this by being a role model. So raising your standards of emotional and social maturity is a requirement to help raise a ‘good’ child.
The prevalence of bullying in schools today necessitates an immediate intervention to help your child respond to bullying in an appropriate manner.