WHEN people talk about bullying, we usually turn a deaf ear because we’ve heard those stories a million times. And because the vice is as old as humanity, we have labelled that subject ‘boring’. But wait a minute; this archaic yet persistent behaviour is still witnessed in most schools worldover. Bullying includes harassment, physical harm, repeatedly demeaning speech and efforts to ostracize another person.
In Uganda for instance, about 60% of children reported having been bullied, according to a 2005 study by Raising Voices Uganda. The report titled Violence Against Children: The Voices of Ugandan Children and Adults, says children reported being humiliated and victimised by older children. In Kenya, the situation is even more worrying. Of the 1,012 students who were interviewed in 17 public secondary schools in Nairobi in 2006, between 63% and 82% said they suffered bullying.According to statistics from Family First Aid, about 30% of teenagers in the US have been involved in bullying, either as a bully or as a victim of teenage bullying.
Unfortunately, bullying leaves physical and emotional scars on the victim. Research shows that social and emotional bullying — teasing, gossiping and name-calling — is far more damaging than physical bullying. Amy Hammond, assistant professor of psychology at Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport, said it’s common for bullied individuals, particularly girls, to suffer from sleeping problems and, especially for boys, to exhibit aggression as a consequence of being bullied.
Hammond adds that those who have been bullied more often show antisocial behaviors, breaking minor laws and rules, than those who have not been bullied. On a number of occasions, the bullied students have lost interest in school or even dropped out.
Rwanda has a clean track record of no reported cases, but we must continue sensitising children on the dangers of bulllying in schools. Students, parents and teachers we must join hands to stamp out this practice from all the schools in the region. Much as perpetrators must be punished, we should also endeavour to change people’s views on violence through sensitisation.