More than “Three Idiots”: The truth about bullying in our society

Posted on March 14, 2010 in Society

Disclosure by a student journalist of YKA.

With this article, Youth Ki Awaaz is launching a campaign against ragging and bullying — “STOP RAGGING & BULLYING IN OUR SOCIETY”. Watch out for interviews with law makers, Police officers and victims. If you have been a victim or know someone who has and would like to highlight the story, please write to us at – Editor in chief, Youth Ki Awaaz.

Imagine yourself sitting in a classroom and your classmates sitting in the back benches abusing you non-stop in choicest Hindi expletives and making remarks so derogatory they are not suitable for inclusion in this article. You have been unable to concentrate in the class but you would probably ignore it. Now imagine that happening non-stop for one and a half years. You talk it out with them, no result, it only grows. You complain to your teachers, no result, it only grows.

For the past one and a half years I have been a victim of bullying and abuse in college (in Delhi University!) at the hands of my peers. The strange thing is that most of them don’t have anything directly against me but are driven by one person who has by now become an expert at scheming, maligning people and abusing in possibly all languages spoken, I guess even those that are not spoken in any civil society. This person happens to be a girl but that does not matter to me as I think men and women are equal, and listening to her choice of abuses has reaffirmed by belief. I guess the vamp in Hindi TV serials inspires her. But jokes aside, whenever I read about ragging and bullying incidents in various colleges across India, I related to them with great ease.

Mine is not a very different case from most people victims of bullying & harassment, a crime punishable by law. I join college, make friends, land-up great internships, and strangely & suddenly college ‘friends’ turn foes and there starts the process of consistent mental harassment. Again, like in most cases I don’t know why this is happening to me or why these people can’t talk it out. I guess they would when they succeed at snuffing out my career or my mind. Well, I have news for them — none of that is going to happen. Like them, I may not have a violent and mentally deranged group in college, but I know that a larger part of our civil society including my teachers and hopefully the law, are behind me.

I would have probably taken the abuse in my stride if yesterday there wasn’t an attempt to attack me. I escaped unhurt but a friend accompanying me was brutally assaulted. I am still trying to figure what has gone wrong, why are I and my friends being targeted. Wikipedia describes bullying as — “Bullying is an act of repeated aggressive behavior in order to intentionally hurt another person, physically or mentally. Bullying is characterized by an individual behaving in a certain way to gain power over another person. Norwegian researcher Dan Olweus defines bullying as when a person is “exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons.” He defines negative action as “when a person intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person, through physical contact, through words or in other ways. Bullying comprises repeated acts over time that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power with the more powerful individual or group abusing those who are less powerful.” I was showed that I am less powerful in this case because after assaulting my friend, this girl called her father over to the college who came over with a local politician and strong men to “apologise” to me and my friend. Apologize to me he did, and very politely so, but he ensured that I got to know his political connections and that he has strong reach in the area where I stay. I was asked to convey this to my family as well. While her father was apologizing this girl carried on using abusive language with me in the presence of her father!! Clearly shows her upbringing and civility, or rather ‘uncivility’.

Monday would be an interesting day as the college Principal would take up the assault complaint. I have been assured by the Principal that things will change. I will update you in detail including pictures of the assault, identities of persons involved and a copy of my complaint.

Do share your thoughts with us.

Update from the writer, 17th March 2010

The issue was resolved today by college authorities. Hopefully, this would be the end of it all. Learning from today: Always stand up to bullying, bring it to the notice of concerned authorities immediately, and things will be resolved.

I would also like to highlight a correction in the above note. The apology from the girl’s father (mentioned in the second last paragraph) was not to me but to my friend who was attacked. Furthermore, as I discovered today, the scheming and planning of bullying/harassing me was done by someone else in the girl’s group and not herself. It seems she was misinformed and instigated to become abusive & aggressive. Anyway, I’m moving on from this, having learnt some crucial lessons. I hope others too have learnt something positive out of this. I am making these corrections in the spirit of true journalism, to ensure that all facts presented here are true and consistent with what really happened.