This year we will be celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who stood for non-violence and suggest we celebrate by focusing on one issue, that is, bullying at school, which when addressed will help bring up kind and polite students, who will go on to be good citizens and in turn build a better society around them.
Bullying in school is a significant problem worldwide and is one of the most common antisocial behaviors among children. It is a public health problem and can threaten students’ physical and mental wellbeing at school and can negatively impact their ability to learn.
The victims, in the short term, may feel depressed, anxious, angry, have sleep disturbance, excessive stress and nightmares, have a significant drop in school performance, or may commit suicide. The consequences include missing classes, avoiding school activities, playing truant or dropping out of school altogether. This in turn has an adverse impact on academic achievement, future education and employment prospects. Being bullied is also linked to a heightened risk of eating disorders and social and relationship difficulties.
In the long term, they may feel insecure, lack trust, develop a mental illness or develop further health challenges. They may also desire vengeance, sometimes leading them to torment others in return. Involvement in school bullying can be a predictor of future antisocial and criminal behaviour and both bullies and their victims can later fall prey to alcohol, substance abuse and violent behaviour.
The best way to address bullying is to stop it before it starts. Training the staffs of schools and educating students to prevent and address bullying can help sustain bullying prevention efforts over time. Governments should advice schools to implement comprehensive bullying prevention programs and help in developing and enforcing curriculum that is culturally responsive and sensitive to all. Governments along with NGOs can produce educational programs, class lessons, videos, anti-bullying posters and educate students, teachers and parents on the effects of bullying and pave way for a peaceful co-existence. Governments and schools should also help students to connect better by helping them develop skills in conflict resolution, problem solving, negotiations, listening, communication, and decision making. As a society, we should teach children kindness and empathy and help them build understanding of those around them.
“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi