Bullying – In an unforgiving jungle… survival is the key

One can guess that social hierarchy begins at school where peer boundaries are set, and thus begins the formation of unusually contrived rules to define kids. Here you have the upper class of popular kids, your studious unpopular ones, and the typical tag-along spectators. When the school starts, it becomes an unforgiving jungle … and survival is the key.

While pacifism is an ideal notion, it loses its grip in this brutal playground war that takes place almost daily at school. It cuts through the socio-religious boundaries unhindered, insidious, and forever evolving, one could simply call it ‘bullying’.

Shrugged off by many on purpose, bullying is a starkly serious issue that knows no bounds. It leaps over all borders and thrives, taking its early roots in school. And the arsenal of these school-variety bullies is quite complex. Bulling can be verbal (name calling, making threats), psychological (harassing, spreading rumors), or physical (hitting, pushing, or taking away a kid’s belongings).

Boys tend to be physical, regardless of their unlucky victim’s gender, and girls almost always take the verbal road. Shy, young, and vulnerable Kids are often singled out and repeatedly subjected to harassment and torture for self-satisfaction. These kids are usually easy targets as they are not confident enough to complain, or strong enough to fight back. So they endure the torture day in day out at school that is ironically supposed to be this hallowed place for learning and character building.

And this doesn’t stop there; bulling can in fact climb the school system and extend all the way up to professional life, where people are often subjected to harassment, threats, and physical violence for personal gains. So even if you leave the school grounds behind, bullies still follow.

It is hard to scale the extent of this ever-festering problem, but researches show that almost 20 – 30% kids have been bullied at one time in their life and about 10% become victims on daily basis. And technology – which only worsens the situation for the bullied children – is not a boon for your simple man only; it is for the bullies as well.

It only takes seconds to spread a malicious rumor about a timid girl with your cell-phones, or further humiliate a defenseless kid by uploading your or worse their deeds on Youtube. Long gone are those days when bullies had to make an effort to shove your head into the toilet; technology really has made everyone’s life easy.

And while the severity of bullying is undeniable, our country seems to have a hard time acknowledging it. Countries all over the world have strict anti-bulling laws, and even with the quick aversions by the perpetrators, the school systems tend to reinvent themselves for the safety of children…despite the increase in student suicide rates.

Several grim student suicides have occurred countrywide.  In Charsadda, a 14-year-old student of government high school Batgram Shabqadar, committed suicide after he was bullied at school and home for his lack of interest in studies. In Abbotabad, Mobeen, a seventh grade student hanged himself because of abuse at the hands of his peers and teachers. The school authorities obviously deny it.

And in Faisalabad, a seventh grade student was sent to juvenile jail after he accepted giving a fatal beating to his class fellow over homophobic slurs. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Bullying in Pakistan is not restricted to students alone. Several teachers are given free passes to subject their students to cruel class punishment, and such cases are becoming increasingly rampant.

In Muzaffarabad, a 12 year old young girl was beaten to death by her Quran Teacher. In Hasilpur, a female teacher beat up a grade one student severely, fracturing her left hand, and in lower Dir, a five year old student accused her teacher of regular torture.  Unfortunately, many other cities see such cases of severe acceptable torture, but manage to slip under the radar…or are not even reported.

Beating at the hands of teachers in Pakistan is seen as an apt form of character building, which in reality – along with peer bullying – can lead to lack of self-confidence, drop in grades, fear, and general lack of interest in daily routine that sticks to the victims throughout their lives.

Even though much has been done to curb this problem overseas, Pakistan – as always – remains at the rear of problem solving. The first step to stop the bully is to complain, especially if the victim feels that the threats and harassments are leading to something more dangerous – such as severe or fatal physical abuse. And the best bet is to seek out parental support.

It is up to parents lend a patient ear to the child. It may have toughened up dad in yesteryears, but his son could end up feeling the brunt of severe abuse in the long run. If parents communicate, listen, and help out the child, more than half of his peer and teacher troubles could be averted.

School/college/university management can induct counselors for different peer and teacher problems faced by peerless, vulnerable students.  That will give students the much-needed confidence of privacy to share their troubles.

Anti-bullying laws should be implemented by the government – that treats such issues with fixed silence – to hammer down the ever-increasing problems faced by many students daily. Students should be given ample rights to match the powers in the hands of their teachers for their safety. Even the judicial system should be given an update to give out severe punishments.

If these rules are duly and rightfully injected into our decaying – and in need of overhaul – school and judicial system, we might see some change in the near future. But a real effective change in the end has to come from the bully’s themselves. Not until these young people realize the detrimental impact of thier action, no change can truly come from grounds up. In the hope to change the way bullies think, the students of Cypress Ranch High School in the United States of Amerca  carried out a creative and extremely effective anti-bullying campaign “Cypress Ranch High School Anti-Bullying Lip Dub “Who Do U Think U R?”  ”. We can look at their example and hopefully follow it to shape up the country for tomorrow.

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