Yes, bullying in Indian schools exist, and here’s what you can do about it!
According to statistics, 1 in every 3 children in Indian schools is bullied.
We have all been through some or the other form of bullying in school – whether we were bullied, saw a friend go through it, or we bullied someone.
Being bullied as a child…
I distinctly remember how I was made fun of on various occasions for being a ‘chashmish.’ While in most cases it was fun and I could tell the difference, there were certain instances when I was deliberately made to feel bad and made fun of, teased and bullied, while being called a ‘chashmish.’
There were also times when I was made fun of for my simple accessories, as compared to those that my classmates from affluent families would bring to school. Something as simple as a school bag, or the brand of fountain pen was also used to target kids from middle-class families, and show them down in a poor light.
Another incident involved a friend when I was in class 9. This shy and soft spoken girl had a large amount of body hair. As a result, all the boys and even girls would always make fun of her. One day when she came to school we noticed something was different.
She had removed her body hair and this was definitely due to the constant teasing and ridicule she was made to face. However, it did not stop there. The fact that she had now used some means to remove body hair was talked about a lot, and she was now made fun of because she had to resort to such means.
Seeing bullying as a parent…
I stepped in to talk to my elder daughter when I realized something was not right….
Now that my daughters go to school, I have found out about small incidents that can be construed as bullying. For instance, my elder one was constantly pressurized by this one girl into doing things she may not be comfortable with.
If my daughter was asked to work on a project as a team, this girl would end up taking all credit, and if my daughter protested, she would make sure to nag her and show her down in class, and carry on behaving like this till my daughter gave in.
No form of bullying is acceptable – you cannot be bullied, you cannot be a bully…
As parents, we have to help our kids understand where to draw the line. Our Indian values teach us to be patient, understanding and complying, and not fight back but, instead, try to adjust. While these are all very nice values, it is also important to teach our children when it is important to stand up and fight back what is wrong.
Recently, my elder daughter was chosen to be the Captain of her school House, and one of the main agendas on her campaign was to make sure that there are no instances of bullying in the school.
Sometimes, we end up passing the wrong message to our kids without realizing we are doing so. Our comedy shows regularly poke insults at people based on their looks, body size, accent, skin colour and more, all in the name of ‘jokes’, and we sit as a family and enjoy them. We threaten our kids when they don’t listen to us, saying things like ‘thappad parega’ or ‘baahar nikaal doon?’
For children, it is difficult to filter what is acceptable and what is not, and when they see us being alright with such behaviour, they too feel this is normal. In such a scenario, our kids will either be bullied and take it all quietly, or be the bully and not realize what they are doing wrong.
Signs your child is being bullied…
- Talks less and does not make eye contact
- Often has bruises or is in pain
- Comes back hungry from school even after taking school lunch
- Wants to miss school and gives excuses
- Does not want to travel in the school bus
- Belongings are often damaged or uniform gets torn
- Having problems with eating and sleeping
Signs your child is a bully
- Enjoys poking fun at others in an insulting and taunting way
- Is authoritative and does not give others a chance to speak their mind
- Is loud and tends to get aggressive when others don’t listen
- Enjoys violent or derogatory content
What to do….
- Talk to your child about school each day, and try to get as much information as you can.
- Stop rude or unacceptable behaviour right at the start. Don’t overlook it as being done in a fun form. As a parent, refrain from doing so yourself.
- Teach your child to stand up to bullies tell them to back off. Tell your child you will always support them and if someone makes them feel bad or uncomfortable, to report it to the class teacher immediately.
- Never try to hush up any incidents of bullying for fear of what the society will think. Come out of the ‘log kya kahengey’ mentality and instead talk about bullying openly.
- In some cases, kids are more prone to being bullied in India, based on special needs, physical deformity, skin colour, regional accent, and even kids who may be part of the LGBT community. If your child falls in any of these groups, be more vigilant and make them better prepared, emotionally and mentally.
Also Read: What parents need to know about bullying
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