Just like none of the fingers on our hand are the same, so is the case with children. None of them are the same. Everyone is special in their own way — some introvert, some extrovert, some tall, some fat. But all of them are unique, unique in their own tunes. To nurture each one in their own soup and soul is the best way to respect diversity among people.
This respect should begin from home, and then carried forward to school, college, playground, social gatherings, extracurricular classes, and to each and every sphere where souls mingle. But sadly, one much-ignored aspect of a child’s life that we often forget is bullying. Bullying is very much a part of life for many, more so for those who aren’t outspoken, extrovert, not the appropriate height or weight, or not cheerful all-rounders.
But that doesn’t mean that they are good for nothing. Instead of bullying these people and laughing at them, the focus should be on encouraging them to mould themselves, just like clay, into their passion and imagination. They need to be reminded that they are special, just like all the other kids. But we often see them being asked to live according to others’ expectation of them. In this case, they end up losing their uniqueness, and the world loses its diversity and heterogeneity.
Bullying comes in many forms — kids are often bullied by their tuition teachers, school teachers, peers, and in some cases, even their parents. This starts from a kinder age and can continue up till your coffin lids are nailed. They are ridiculed for being fat, or too thin, or too dumb. They are ridiculed for their accent, looks, for how they pronounce some words and so on. In most cases, this bullying comes from their own peers, who, too, are kids, but the most unacceptable thing is when the person being bullied is laughed at and the person who bullies is regarded as smart and charming.
Bullying might take place in front of teachers, guardians, or their own parents. Instead of rebuking those who bully, we see teachers, and even their guardians, thinking as it is some child’s play and snide over their kids’ action. No, this is not done. Bullying can never be a child’s play. It is not just an innocent joke. Maybe the kid who bullies does it innocently, but aren’t we mature enough to say that this is wrong? Is it okay to accept whatever a child does, by the virtue of them being a child, even when it comes at the cost of hurting the self-esteem of another kid, for no fault of theirs?
Imagine a scene where you are feeling low and people around you start mocking you. How would you feel? Yes, at such tender age, when a child gets such a feeling and doesn’t know what they are going through, they might end up feeling worse, not knowing how to express themselves. Their self-esteem is brought down to zero and so is their confidence, which then takes years to rebuild. And then, teachers or parents would say that they are not confident enough. How would they be? Did we give them the scope to feel confident or did we just snatch their confidence from them by not taking bullying seriously?
Sometimes, they might become aggressive, like in the case of Stockholm syndrome, and might end up increasing their mental agony to thousand folds. They might not know how they are feeling or how to express themselves. They might try to avoid places where they usually get bullied, and ultimately, lock themselves inside closed walls. And then, we’d call them unsocial. If injustice had a name, it ought to be this.
Their own special interests are lost, their sense of self is lost, they start feeling inferior to others. Their efforts might get diverted to make themselves like those who bully him so that they don’t get bullied again. They try to look good and stand tall, but in vain. And in the meantime, their dreams and abilities might suffer the worst nightmare. Many a times, guardians of the bully might not even recognise that the fault lies in their child, and not the other way around.
Their parents rejoice over the fact that their child is extrovert and smart, but forget that this doesn’t give them the licence to bully others. Their silence is not innocent but criminal, because who knows, their child might end up one day becoming a ragging kingpin in college, at workplace, or in the locality, tormenting people across ages for years. And the bullied child’s parents, too, instead of safeguarding their child, might think that the fault lies in their humble and tender lad. They seem to believe in the nonsensical logic that what the majority of the population says is right. No, it’s not.
Firstly, bullies are not a majority, but they influence the majority by their outspoken innocence, but devilous maneuver. And secondly, even if they are in a majority, that doesn’t make them the torchbearers of righteousness. To be introvert is no sin. But the silence of the world reinforces the idea of worthlessness in that poor soul, and to the extent that they aren’t able to gather themselves up.
Bullied kids, in many cases, give themselves into writing, scribbling or painting. They don’t even want the world to know about this lest they get bullied again. Scribbling or writing helps them to vent their emotions out, which they don’t know how to do or whom to express in front of, without getting judged for it.
Well, while this may be the case for the majority, the minority could even get themselves lost in the world of addiction and criminal activities because to them, these worlds promise them a world of self-respect and living alone, which our so-called white-collared world has denied them.
“A wounded rabbit lost its way, sitting and shouting in pain, while the world of hyenas looked upon her and had gales of laugh.”
This is how a bullied kid sees the world. As we say no to ragging, let’s also pledge for a bully-free world, starting from our kids at home. And till then, protect your child from bullying others or getting bullied, and make them feel better. Who knows, many a Galileo, Socrates or Plato are waiting to come.
Let’s pledge this on Mental Health Day this year .Even if we can’t relieve anyone’s mental agony, don’t become the cause of it either.