School bullying is a widespread issue that affects mostly secondary school students. Bullying in school sometimes consists of a group of students taking advantage of or isolating one student in particular, it is a sort of aggressive behaviour portrayed by children to inflict physical pain or psychological distress to another child on repeated occasion; it is not just a child’s play but a terrifying experience many school children face every day. In schools, bullying occurs in all areas. It can occur in nearly any part in or around the school environment, though it more often occurs in the cafeteria, classrooms, hallways, on school buses, in boarding schools, commonly occurs in bathrooms, dinning halls, at the tap areas, to mention but a few. The worst case scenario occurs mostly in boarding schools settings.
Just last week, I bumped into an old friend from secondary school. We got talking about our school days in the hostel where bullying and petty theft were paramount. After we parted, I reminisced on the terrible things that “seniors” meted out on “juniors” they did all sorts to make life miserable; some of the bullying acts I witnessed and even experienced included:
*Flogging a junior on the feet with a specific hanger that was called “go to hell”
*Keeping hot basin of food on the back and eating from there
*Forcing a junior to lie down under a wet bunk
*Flogging you for not running when called
*Drawing a car on the black board and asking a junior to push it
*Forcefully extorting items like torch, soap, provisions and even money from students, jack lockers to steal things; the list goes on and on.
Bullying can have devastating effect on children which in some cases could last into adulthood. It can seriously affect the physical, emotional, academic and social well-being of the individual; bringing about lack of confidence. Children who are bullied at school commonly feel tense, anxious and afraid, which makes it difficult for them to view themselves in a positive light. Bullies thrive on making others feel inadequate and worthless; this makes children fear school and consider it an unhappy and unsafe place and so begin to abscond from school, classes or loose concentration when they attend hence, resulting to their poor academic performance.
It is however unfortunate that much attention has not been paid to this prevalence act by school authorities and parents. Many parents do not understand the potentially damaging effects of bullying not only on a child’s confidence and self-esteem but also on his academic performance, many believe that bullying is part of growing up, does not harm and is only a passing phase, some do not even believe in its existence in this part of the world. Even principals and school teachers underestimate the extent and severity of bullying while ignoring the fact that it could have a negative long lasting effect on the child bullied.
Putting an end to bullying is not something that can happen overnight or something that can be achieved by an individual. To put an end to bullying, teachers, school administrators and parents must work together.
Communication is key to building rapport; the more teachers reach out to their students, the more inclined a child will be to approach the teacher if he or she is having issues with bullying. Most school bullying takes place in areas that are less supervised by adults therefore, schools need to create an action plan to monitor these spots. As parents, we must be informed and observant, children may not always be vocal about being bullied, if you discover your child is being bullied, don’t just tell them to suck it all up or let it go, instead, have open-ended conversations with them, get to understand what is really going on at school so you can take appropriate steps to rectify the situation. Most importantly, let your child know are with him or her.
No matter what anyone may think, we’ve got to dispute this myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage that is inevitable. We all have an obligation to ensure that our schools are safe for all of our kids because they deserve an opportunity to learn in a safe environment devoid of fear.