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How to handle bullying

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Bullying has been going on since the dawn of time, although what makes it particularly dangerous today is that social media inadvertently gives bullies more power and victims less self-worth. The false picture that social media paints makes victims feel “all alone” and, thus, much more vulnerable.

There are ways of pushing back against bullying, but it requires action by all of us: parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, and community leaders. Recently, Dehradun school authorities secretly buried a 12-year-old boy's body after he was allegedly beaten by seniors.

Various professionals speak to Monarose Sheila Pereira about tackling this menace.

Larissa Rodrigues,

There is no one best way to handle a bully. A few strategies: Ignore the bully and don’t give him/her attention. Do not react or show them that their words have affected you. Practice confidence, act brave and stand tall. Feel good about yourself. Find true friends who will stand by you and socialize with them. Stand up for others being bullied and be a friend. Do not isolate yourself or get depressed. Instead, talk about your feelings and fears with a close friend. Tell an adult about the bully and don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Talk to role models to see how they would cope with the bullying

Dr Nirmala Rao,
Director, Aavshkar Centre for Self Enrichment

Some children may put up with bullying by the 'cool kids' as a way of gaining acceptance or approval – a way of staying on the fringe of the 'powerful ones.' Further, silence may be seen as the only option: there may be fear of retaliation if the bully is confronted or the victim takes charge in any other way. However, bullying will end up sapping the confidence of the victim and also de-stabilise the character and development of the bully. Hence, both victims and bullies need to be taught how to handle their pressures and challenges in a healthy manner. This would include, better ways of connecting, gaining approval, asserting power and gaining advantages. The underlying fears and needs of the individual need to be addressed in order to create strong and healthy adults with healthy and positive ways of interactions.
Dr Kirti Potkar,

Dealing with bullying is a necessity; from children to adults everyone deals with bullying in some form or another. The important thing is to tell someone; stay connected and get external support. Most often, the victim ends up feeling that they deserve the punishment meted out by the bully. They need to know that they do not deserve to be bullied. Some other points to consider: working on your confidence and self-esteem to ignore the bullies; focusing on your friends and loved ones – the ones who give you positive and supportive energy (versus the negative energy bullies), learning to be assertive, building your patience, dealing with the bully when you are calm and in control (versus in the heat of the moment). Maintaining a positive sense of self is going to be very important.

Poonam Agarwal,
Counseling Psychologist

Bullying is an unwanted behaviour in which the behaviour is repeated over a period of time. Person who are bullied and who bully others may have serious long lasting unresolved problems. There are types of bullying – verbal, physical, sexual, collective, and cyber bullying. It can happen anywhere from school - playground, school bus to college - canteen, class to workplace – with colleagues, mates or families. It should not be ignored as it affects your self-esteem and confidence. Cyber bullying is a serious matter which is increasing and unknowing affecting our psycho-emotional wellbeing which may lead to life-threatening moves like threatening someone or suicide ideation or attempting it. One must confide in someone you trust so that steps can be taken against this 'serious act'. Conducting awareness, short group sessions, using media to create open forum to help 'both parties' to cope effectively.

Aakanksha Kanojia,
Counselling psychologist

There is a need for child protection policy at school and colleges as well as no tolerance policies on bullying at schools and colleges. Counselor and psychologists on boarded in schools and colleges not just as tick box is the need of the hour. Sensitising staff and teachers about bullying and how to handle it at school should also be conducted. Open discussion in schools and colleges about bullying and the consequences should be held. There should be definitive measures laid by the school and college managements/ principals for those who would found bullying and are bystanders. Regular workshops and interventions for students should be conducted to handle bullying at their end. Letting children know who they can reach if faced bullying. Create a positive environment at school and practice mindfulness so that students be aware of their actions.

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