At a time when instances of bullying are on the rise in the city, an action research by a city school principal has revealed that students want the issue to be tackled through humour and counselling rather than severe disciplinary action.
The research was conducted by Tanya Valecha, principal of Rustomjee Cambridge International School and Junior College, Dahisar. She was recently awarded the Global Teachers Accreditation (GTA) by the British Council for the research.
The GTA provides professional training and accredits classroom-based research to enable teachers to improve students’ learning. Other teachers across the city have also received the award for their research in various fields.
“As I teach students of Classes 8 and 9, I realised that bullying is a matter of concern for students — especially in that age group,” said Valecha, who will receive the award in Delhi in December. “So, as part of my research, I asked students on what they think are the best ways to tackle bullying.”
Surprisingly, a majority of the interviewed students suggested that a bully should not be punished with severe disciplinary action. Instead, punishment can be in the form of depriving the child of certain benefits such as not allowing him/her to participate in some school activities.
Students also suggested counselling and the use of humour to bring about a change in the behaviour of the bully.
Other suggestions included setting up of systems for anonymous reporting, so that more and more children open up about bullying.
“A child does not have malicious intentions at heart while bullying. It happens because of peer pressure, as the child wants to appear cool in front of his friends,” said Valecha. “In some cases, a child indulges in intimidating others because he was bullied in the past.”
Valecha also found that bullying is not taken seriously by parents. “Generally, parents ignore bullying as they think it is part of growing up. However, it can affect the child’s confidence and self-esteem, and should not be ignored,” she said.
According to her, bullying is not only physical harassment, but anything that causes discomfort to the child. “Parents should ensure that their kids feel comfortable with them or any other adult in the family, so that children confide about such incidents to them,” she said.
Parents also agree that more parental involvement is needed to tackle bullying. “If I find that my child is being bullied, I will go to the child’s parents and talk to them, so that they talk to the child about his behaviour,” said Bindu Corriea, a parent from Bandra.
Recognising the seriousness of bullying in schools, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had recommended an anti-bullying policy to the ministry of human resource and development a couple of months ago.
The board had recommended several measures to tackle bullying under the policy. “We recommended forming anti-bullying squads in schools. We also suggested that committees formed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act also look into bullying cases,” said a CBSE director.
The board had also proposed punishments, including oral and written warnings, fines, suspensions for a specified period, withholding of examination results and expulsion from school in extreme cases.
“We are of the view that more than punishments, corrective actions should be taken against children caught bullying,” she said.