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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Bullying at school: Who is to blame?

Mallica Joshi and Neha Pushkarna, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 14, 2014
First Published: 12:12 IST(14/3/2014) | Last Updated: 12:28 IST(14/3/2014)

A video showing students of a prominent south Delhi school hurling abuses and hitting each other has raised serious questions about the role of schools and parents in the upbringing of children.

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The video shows students of class 6 hitting a student of class 7 of Modern School, Vasant Vihar. Most children can be seen hurling choicest abuses at each other. The video was recorded on a student’s mobile phone.

Questions have been raised about the kind of discipline that schools are imposing these days and also about where children are learning such aggression at such a young age.

Read: Video of Delhi students bullying senior goes viral

The scope of bullying has increased manifold in the last few years with students from varied socio-economic backgrounds interacting with each other. A student could be bullied for not carrying a particular kind of mobile phone or putting up a picture on a social networking website.

According to experts, however, there is nothing new about children abusing. “At this age, abusing is thought of as cool. It is encouraged within the peer group. This is not a phenomenon that is unique to this generation. It has been happening for a long time. How parents and schools deal with it is what is important here,” says Ishnita Keskar, a counsellor at a prominent school. A lot has also been said about children getting phones to school with impunity.

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“Such a thing would never have come out 10 years back but because of the advancement of technology everyone can record and share these videos now,” said Pratidhi Rawat, a parent who got the video through messaging application Whatsapp last night.

It is not just schools that have come into focus after the video went viral. The role of parents has also come under the scanner.

“Children do not grow up in a vacuum. They hear the way people on buses, homes and malls speak and it impacts them. No school or parent teaches a child to abuse. We all are responsible for what children are learning and how they are behaving. It is not about abusing but about being aggressive. This is something that needs to be addressed,” said Ameeta Wattal, principal, Springdales School, Pusa Road.

Making children understand the consequences of aggression and using bad language is important, experts say.

“Having a rational discussion with children about expectations and peer pressure is important. In most cases, children don’t even know the meaning of the words they say out loud. Sensitization is needed in this regard,” Keskar added.

But it is not only children that are bullied by other kids. Teachers, too, have at times been on the receiving end. Cyberspace, especially, has become an open platform for bullying.

“I had scolded a group of students once for creating trouble in a class. They were so agitated because of the sudden check on them that they created a page on Facebook against me. They made fun, created jokes and even abused,” said a teacher of social science in a south Delhi school on condition of anonymity. “The school then realised it was a serious issue. If this is what they did to a teacher, it is not hard to imagine how they deal with each other. We asked parents to keep a tab on their internet use,” she added.


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