INTERNATIONAL Day against Violence and Bullying at School, including Cyberbullying was declared by UNESCO member states on the first Thursday of November, which fell yesterday on the 2nd.
Under the theme, ‘No place for fear: Ending school violence for better mental health and learning,’ it aimed to, “highlight the strong links between school violence and mental health.”
“The strong links between mental health and violence in school are worrying: experiences such as violence, bullying and discrimination at school can contribute to poor mental health and affect learning, while feelings of safety are linked to better mental health and education outcomes. We must end violence and promote good mental health in schools to ensure learners learn and thrive in safe and supportive spaces,” said UNESCO.
Almost everybody that attends a school knows some bullies, even if you are not a direct victim, you know their victims. And while many believe that children are too innocent to do harm, it is glaring that at very young age, some children can be wicked and thus children can be cruel.
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The bullies form a gang of like minds. Or the head bully is surrounded by minions who would goad him in tormenting those they perceive as weaker than them.
Some are tormented for being very brilliant, for being punctual and for being very neat. Still some are bullied for being different as in having a defect.
When children are reluctant to go to school because of bullying, parents report to the school or tell their children to fight back, which they could hardly do.
Some years ago, a final year student in a boarding secondary school had to be transferred to another school because of bullying. She was always crying and couldn’t cope, so it was the only solution.
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But after twenty years, she still remembers it with bitterness; it is not something that you can easily forget.
In some cases, it leads to severe injuries or even death to the victims of bullying. They have gone beyond abuse, mocking and derogatory nicknames. Where it leads to fatalities, people wonder how the school authorities didn’t see what was happening under its nose.
Therefore, while steps are taken to fight against bullying at schools, the bullies themselves should be made to face their ‘crime’ no matter how small they are. Because if we always think of small children as little adorable innocents and overlook their ‘wickedness’ where it is apparent, we would encourage the development of monsters that would become difficult to tame later in life.
Some schools suspend or dismiss bullies depending on their faults or even the schools. Some schools are more lenient than others.
The issue of bullying does not however happen only in schools. It happens in many places where people with bullying tendencies bully colleagues in a subtle way to annoy and make fun of them.
Some people attended a two-week programme and one woman was always the first to arrive. Another participant on observing this said, “Why are you so punctual?” When she told her the second time, the woman said, “You know what, if we were children, I may have decided to be late so as not for you to bully me. It is none of your business. By the way why are you always late?”
The other participant apologised and said she was only joking.
The International Day against Violence and Bullying at School including Cyberbullying marked yesterday would hopefully draw attention to the torments bullying causes its victims and the solution to it. Bullies do not have a right to make other people’s life miserable.