By Anshul Tewari:
Many of you reading this post have, at some time or the other, been witness to bullying; either yourselves or around you. Some perhaps, have also been bullies themselves — consciously or unconsciously.
Bullying is widespread and heavily under-addressed in India, and has led to an array of social and psychological problems. In a study by Fortis National Mental Health programme in 300 Delhi schools, 60% students said that they have witnessed bullying, while 96 % claimed that this kind of abuse is of grave concern in educational establishments.
Fact is, bullying happens all around us and yet we almost never do anything about it. Here are 7 instances of everyday bullying that we may all be guilty of having ignored.
1. When we saw someone name-calling and teasing others, or did it ourselves:
How many times have you seen someone taunt another with names like “mota” “moti” “chinki” “naata” or one such derogatory nickname just because they did not “fit in” or just for cheap thrills? This seemingly innocent fun can have deep psychological effects on an individual. Studies prove that instances of bullying threaten the physical and psychological safety of school-going children year after year.
Just in September this year, TOI reported the case of Pinky (14), a student of Class IX who was subject to constant teasing by a classmate, Bharat. She took the matter forward, complained to her teacher and Principal, but neither paid any heed. She was later found hanging from the ceiling in her room. In the suicide note, she held the teacher and the school administration responsible. (Source)
2. When you discriminate someone from a minority community, caste, different region say, north-east or south India:
Racism is a major but under-reported problem in India. Apart from name-calling another major problem is the act of prejudice against people based on their looks, identity and where they geographically come from. In January this year, a youth from Arunachal Pradesh was beaten to death in New Delhi, following an altercation sparked by as the shopkeepers’ comments on his hair and looks. People from the North East are routinely subjected to teases and taunts on their facial appearance or the clothes they wear. This kind of bullying is in direct violation of our constitutional law and only builds anger, resentment and a sense of alienation in victims.(Source)
3. When you shamed or nastily taunted someone on the internet:
A recent study by Microsoft says that India has the dubious distinction of ranking third in the list of countries with the highest rate of cyber-bullying, with over 53% teens having been bullied online at some point. As we all know, the internet is also actively used for trolling i.e. hurling abuses, name calling or even active threats to someone’s life or dignity, which is often directed at women online. Tamil actress, Chinmayi Sripada received a lot of abusive tweets from Tamil users of the social networking platform and when she objected, she was accused of being prejudiced towards anyone who tweeted to her in Tamil.
Sexual objectification is another frequent kind of cyber-bullying, with the most recent case of Times of India, where we all witnessed how the newspaper victim blamed actress Deepika Padukone when they decided to glorify her cleavage in a shameful front page spread. (Source)
4. When you teased or taunted someone just because you were physically stronger:
In a recent case last September, 11 year old Oindrilla Das suffered severe trauma that led to her death, after a group of seniors locked her inside a toilet after school hours.(Source)
When at a young age, students bully others and get away with it; they end up believing that bullying is OK and that it is a part and parcel of growing up. Same is the case with those who get bullied and end up believing that it was because of their inabilities that they got bullied.
5. When you or someone you knew ostracized a mate from ‘the group’, or spread rumours about them:
Remember that time when you and your friends ostracized someone from your group just because they were different, or because they made choices you did not agree with? Well, let me break it to you, you were bullying that person.This form of bullying, also known as relational aggression often goes unnoticed.Sometimes referred to as emotional bullying, it is a type of social manipulation where children or even adults try to hurt their peers or sabotage their social standing. (Source)
6. Remember that sexual bully?
Sexual bullying is not just about sexual assault, but also includes sexual name-calling, crude comments, vulgar gestures, uninvited touching, sexual propositioning and even commenting on someone’s appearance, attractiveness, sexual development or sexual activity. In extreme cases, it is also about sexual assault.
Even if you may not have directly commented on someone’s appearance, sexual development or activity, but as children we’ve all known someone that definitely did! He or she in fact, probably continues to, because they did not receive the right intervention at the right time.
7. All those times you decided to stay mum while someone was bullied:
As harsh as it may sound, the fact of the matter is that all those times you decided to stay quiet when you saw bullying happen around you, you encouraged a culture of human rights violation. What’s worse, you may have proved that it’s OK for the bully to get away with it. People who are bullied suffer from severe mental trauma and find it extremely difficult to overcome the incidents that took place. In many cases, victims of bullying also take their own lives.
What we often fail to realize is that bullying is a serious human right abuse and this can only be realized by children when human rights education is embedded as a part of their curriculum.
A human rights education based approach in schools can be the first and a very important step to help foster respect, equality and ultimately, healthier friendships between children. In 2012, Amnesty International India initiated a Human Rights Education programme to support schools to integrate human rights education into their daily school life. Cases of human rights abuses in the form of bullying are found to occur in many schools and in order to bring an end to these, it is very important to bring together all stakeholders and address the issue in a more organized and cognizant manner.