In an unsettling episode at a school in Minsk, a group of seventh graders were caught on camera tormenting a sixth grader in a chilling display of bullying. The footage showed the aggressors hoisting the victim by his legs, sitting on him, and shoveling snow into his backpack, all while hurling insults at him. The incident, which has since sparked a broad discussion on school bullying, led to the identification of the aggressors, and their parents are now being held accountable for their children's actions.
Understanding the Roots of Bullying
Clinical psychologist Yolanta Armande elucidates that bullying is a systematic and targeted form of aggressive behavior exhibited by a group, typically children. It stems from their inability to foster positive self-esteem through accomplishments and skills. Contrary to popular belief, bullying does not occur because of specific traits exhibited by the victims, and hence, altering behavior to evade bullying is a myth. Armande emphasizes that bullying can only be curtailed externally, necessitating adult intervention.
A Global Issue
As per the 2019 data from UNICEF, approximately one in three children, aged between 9 to 15, have endured bullying in school. Children commonly encounter bullying in one of three roles: the aggressor, the victim, or the bystander, and all experience detrimental effects. Armande suggests that alterations in a child's behavior, such as reluctance to attend school or becoming more withdrawn, should serve as red flags for parents.
Parental Role in Combating Bullying
Establishing trust with their child to discuss bullying and offer emotional support is crucial for parents. They should elucidate that bullying is reprehensible, and the victim is never at fault. If discussions with the child's teacher or other school authorities fail to resolve the issue, parents may need to contemplate transferring the child to another school to ensure their safety and well-being. The onus is on the school to provide a safe environment for all students, and parents should not hesitate to escalate the issue if needed.