October is National Bullying Prevention Month!
Everyone has the right to feel safe and be respected.
In many schools in our country, children unjustly suffer persecution, threats, insults, humiliation, and repeated verbal or physical abuse by other students and even by adults. School bullying has grim consequences on the mental health of our students; It causes emotional disturbances, depression, low self-esteem, low grades, school dropout, and even suicidal thoughts. For this reason, a campaign against bullying has been declared in the country at the national level.
When I was a child, my younger brother was harassed by another child in school and frequently came beaten and crying and did not want to go to class anymore. My mom said to my brother: “If you want this to end you have to face it, do not let them abuse you because if you leave as is, it will continue for a lifetime. If he hits you, you too, with all your strength, let him know that his actions have consequences. “ The next day the abuser assaulted my brother, and my brother fought back; he ran over and did not stop hitting his abuser until a teacher intervened. From that day on, the other child stopped bothering him and even turned around every time he saw him.
Bullying takes many forms; It can be physical, verbal, psychological and social. All of them equally, detrimental and harmful to the health of our children. On the following paragraphs, I will tell you a few examples of bullying in our school which I learned recently.
Last year one of our students was caught with a small kitchen knife. After he returned from the punishment that was applied to him, I asked him why he brought it. He told me that a group of students from a gang had threatened to beat him and they will continue to beat him until he joined them. His sole purpose for carrying the knife was to defend himself. It is a sad story in which the only people that received punishment was the child being the victim of bullying and not those who were harassing him.
One of my students this year asked for a change of school, precisely because he could not stand the pressure, beatings, abuse, and humiliation that he was subjected from a gang of students that he left after realizing that what he was doing would not lead him to anything good. He told me “if I continue with them we will end up all in jail.” Although he did not tell me explicitly, I think this group of boys was involved in drug use or distribution.
Girls are no strangers to bullying. In this same school year, a student arrived crying because a group of her colleagues surrounded her, and began to push her and to make fun of her publicly, with homophobic expressions. She told me that she had never felt so offended or as embarrassed as that day.
This year a mother told me about of a sports coach in our school who verbally assaulted her son and other students and shouted profanities and insults at them during training and games. He even took the student´s hoodie and wiped his shoes and told the other children to do the same. I advise her to report it immediately to the school authorities. But the mother who was undocumented decided not to risk being deported by drawing attention to them.
I want to ask our students, parents, fellow teachers and school authorities to come together to combat this scourge in our schools. If we avert our eyes from this problem, it will only fester and will become even more challenging to solve.
Bullying affects us all, let’s fight together to make it a thing of the past.
If you suffer harassment do not walk away, report it.