Students of different age group indulge in different type of bullying tactics
Looking At Bullying At Nursery, Primary, Secondary and Higher secondary level
Age group 3-5 years
A nursery student bullies the other by snatching away eatables and depriving the victim of food. Pushing, beating, biting, dropping water on the written work, tearing the dress are a few other common bullying practices which can be found with this age group.
When a child from this age group is bullied, it starts to wail loudly attracting the attention of the teacher, attendant and the classmates. The parents often raise a hue and cry over the issue. The parents of the bully as well as the bullied speak possessively about their wards and hence in this emotional upheaval, it is difficult to solve the problem amicably. But if the child is corrected at this stage, the behavior can change and the child is well behaved without further problems. I have seen the teachers handling the issue effectively with the cooperation of the parents. Nothing more is needed to be done at this stage.
Usual remedial practice is to separate the children from each other. The bully is made to realize that what they have done cannot be forgiven and the punishment can be isolating him or her and making them sit in a corner and the attendant is asked to be more vigilant.
Age group-5-10 years
A primary student teases the victim verbally, shouts at the victim unnecessarily, complains to the class teacher on and off without any reason, excludes the girl or boy from the group and does not allow him/ her to play with the group. At this level, whether the bully is a girl or a boy, the tactics are the same.
Muscle power is not really used. The victim is made to feel excluded, lonely and unwanted. At this age children crave to be part of a group and to be liked. They try to understand their place in the society and hence it is a very crucial time for social development.
The children at this level are innocent and have no inhibition of any kind and so they carry the complaint home and report it to the mother. However some children learn to add little twists and turns to the event. In other words, the child slowly learns to distort facts and this is the first step towards learning to lie. Some degree of discretion is imperative at this stage for both the mother and the parent.
I have solved number of cases as a teacher as well as a principal. Once the problem is identified, I normally call the parents of both the bully and the bullied and request them to play it safe. I explain to them about the whole thing being blown out of proportion. In many situations the bully feels like a hero and the bullied develops inferiority complex. Vice-versa also can happen when the victim’s mother gets too anxious and supports her child too vociferously. Both can affect the healthy emotional development of a child.
I have seen in my experience of thirty years that no parent wants to accept the fact that his or her child is a ‘problem child.’ They, usually, blame the teachers and suggest that they are partial and prejudiced. Accusations and counter accusations are common at this level. If such a thing happens, the principal’s intervention is necessary.
Early Remedial Measures: Remedial measures needs to be a little more severe than for 3 to 5 years old. It can consist of separating the children from each other as well as reprimanding the bully to the extent that he realizes his mistake and regrets having done it. The children usually do not have ego clashes and they say ‘sorry’ more readily than adults.
It is necessary that schools and parents raise the topic of bullying at Parent-Teachers Association (PTA) meetings and try and come to some decision on how to deal with the problem. This is the best time for both parents and schools to work together to create a ‘support group’ and a positive environment for the children.
This group consists of teenage boys and girls. At this level teasing or exposing brings shame and withdrawal symptoms on the victims. A boy bully at this level uses muscle power to tame the victim and gain recognition, although the boy is generally feared and not respected. The bully likes to collect a few more of his own type and form a bully group to work on the fear psychosis.
A girl bully does not use muscle power as much as she uses abusive language or scandalizing the victim. The bully may connect the docile girl to a boy and draw the pictures of both on the walls of the school and may also write obnoxious report on them.
This affects the girl directly as it is an onslaught on her character. The victim feels extremely humiliated. Whenever she is caught at some vague corners, she is threatened so that she remains in constant fear. The end result is that she suffers silently.
At times the names of the victim is turned and twisted to mean something obnoxious. For example, Mellisa is twisted to Malice or Shanti is changed to Ashanti meaning (Shanti=peace; Ashanti=chaos); Praful is called as a Fool; Loveleen is simply asked to Love and so on.
Subtle, psychological effect is the result of bullying at this level.
The bullied victims try to hide from the bully by skipping school, feigning illness but do not divulge details to anyone. They feel miserable and extremely secluded. They bear the brunt silently, as they fear the bullies may attack them repeatedly, if they disclose their identity.
Advice to parents:
Parents are advised to inquire discreetly and indirectly, as direct approach will not bear fruit.
Age group- 15-17years
Eve teasing is prominent at this level. Boys following girls, asking for dates are common. If the girl declines to entertain the guy, he may even turn violent and inflict wounds on her. Serious reactions like throwing acid bulbs, cornering the girl at a dark nook and stabbing her are some of the misbehaviors of the teenagers.
Higher secondary boys and girls face similar bullying tactics as that of the teenagers plus sexual harassment. As teenagers grow sexually conscious, they try to read books on sex, to collect more information on physical changes occurring in their body. The same goes for girls. And for the same reason they may be teased.
Teenagers feel extremely insulted and draw themselves into a shell of their own. If the teenage boy or a girl behaves strangely at home it is a warning or awakening call for the parents to get into action. Often as parents we may have to get the facts from friends or college mates. It is not unusual for a teenager to be secretive and divulge their problems only to their age group boys and girls. Bullying is something that has to be taken very seriously. If adequate measures to help the victim are not taken, the victims often suffer tremendous mental strain and may have a nervous breakdown. A parent’s role at this stage is extremely important. The right support can turn the situation around.
Every child has the right to study in an environment that they feel safe, comfortable and safe. Parents, the teachers and the school authorities should remain vigilant and be constantly in consultation, if the problem becomes apparent. It needs to be pruned before it takes any nasty turn.