Every school teacher should take a close look at the students in his or her classroom. The probability is that in every classroom there are at least two children who are bullied and who dread coming to school each school day.
School is a nightmare for these students. They face daily torment at the hands of their peers. And there is often no one to whom they can turn because not many teachers are trained to notice the reclusive child who is a victim of bullying.
This past week a child was bullied in a public school. And there are allegations being made that instead of addressing the horrible mauling which that child received, the authorities have tried to minimize its impact on the school’s reputation.
Bullying has always been a problem in schools. Those who claim that there were no bullies in their time at school have selective amnesia. There is no generation who can boast that there was no bullying in their time at school.
Bullies are cowards. They move in hoards. They find strength to do their dirty deeds when they have the support and backing of their group. They take advantage of smaller children. Girls when in a group can be pretty nasty to other girls, laughing and mocking them for no justifiable reason.
We have a lot of bullies in our school system. There are teachers who bully children by punishing them unfairly. There are bullies in public and private schools. A few years ago, some girls urinated in another girl’s water bottle at a private school. They were expelled.
In the public schools, the punishment is lighter – they are given a few days off from school to laugh about what they did and how they escaped serious sanction. Or they are transferred and allowed to continue in their bullying ways.
Bullying can become deadly. A few years ago, a child was kicked in the stomach by another child and died.
Bullies need help. Bullies need as much help as their victims. Disciplining them or transferring them to another school is not the solution. Bullies need medical care by trained psychologists. We do not have the amount of psychologists in Guyana to deal with bullying in our schools.
Bullying in school is a serious problem. Some of the cruelest incidents in any child’s live take place at school.
The trauma of being bullied can have lifelong effects. The violence can be both physical and emotional, the latter involving the callous use to mockery, jeering, tantalize and ridicule. Teachers need to be trained to identify this behaviour since it can affect a child’s performance. They must stop it when it occurs because it constitutes emotional violence against the child.
Children, who are bullied in school, endure fear and trepidation each day they attend school. They are afraid of attending school. For them, school is a frightening experience.
They have trouble concentrating during class because they are worried about what will happen during recess and when school is dismissed. Some of the torment takes place within the classroom itself.
In one incident, many years ago, a young schoolgirl killed herself because her parents did not buy a name brand boots for her to wear to school.
She must have been scared to go to school and face the disdainful look of her peers. This is the level of cruelty, which is meted out to children each day at school.
Children are also physically bullied. Small and weak children are physically ‘roughed up’ by older ones. Sometimes deprived of their money and belongings; others are hit on by their classmates. One child, years ago, used to go into his classmates lunch kits and rearrange their lunches.
A poor mother once related that she had to make arrangements to send her child to a private school since he was constantly bullied at the public school which he had previously attended. The other children kept taking away his personal things. The public school, she said, was not responsive to her complaints.
Just as how in every classroom there are at least two children who are bullied, so too in every two classrooms there is a bully. Who knows, one may be seated right now next to your child.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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