Monthly Archives: October 2017

#LittleHumans Of Loni – Baabu

“What’s that on your hand?”
“It’s a tattoo!”
“You make it everyday?”
“Yes! Without fail. With a pen!”
“Why does it say ‘Aai’? (in devanagari) And not your mother’s actual name?”
“Because she’s always been “Aai”. And she’ll always be “Aai”!”

What’s his story?

Baabu, is the only boy amongst a group of girls. This 13 years old wants to become an engineer when he grows up. He keeps spitting everywhere, almost as if its happening unconsciously. Although he sits on dogs and troubles them a bit, he loves playing with them.

 Baabu is naughty and mischevious, but has a softer side. His love and bond with his mother was apparent through his tattoo.

 

#LittleHumans Of Loni – Jyoti

“You’ve got such beautiful hair, Jyoti !”

“I know! But I want red hair.” (she giggles)
“Why?”
“Because red is my favourite colour!”

What’s her story?

We saw Jyoti, dressed in a faint yellow kurti, jumping over the ground, cautiously dodging the cow dung, carefully managing her shoulder length hair. She kept playing with her hair, taking them on one side, combing them by running her fingers through them, braiding them and loving her hair.

With so many students coming to Loni and these children noticing them, there is no doubt that they get influenced by what they see. Jyoti is no exception. Seeing young girls with coloured hair and new hairstyles, she too wants it for herself.

 

#LittleHumans Of Loni- Bubbly

“What kind of dance do you like?”
“Lavani !”
“Wow! Who teaches you? “
“Oh the television.. “
“Yeah? And what’s your real name?”
“Karishma! But everyone just calls me Bubbly!”

What’s her story?

 Dressed in a striking red kurti and 5-6 shimmering silver bangles on each of her hands, Bubbly’s eyes that spoke to us. Some of her friends said she loves to talk a lot and that she dances really well. This 12 year old agreed to her friends view of her and blushed rather happily. Bubbly goes to school too, in the neighbourhood.

Of all the dances, she chose Lavani, which is a traditional Maharashtrian dance form that has songs which are usually naughty and erotic in nature and almost usually performed for men. At her age, instead of watching cartoons her interests are watching song and dance. Is this exposure encouraged by parents or due to access to the big bad web?

 

#LittleHumans Of Loni- Disha

“So, what do you want to become when you grow up?”

“Whatever my parents plan, “she said very plainly.
“No, but what do you want to become?”
“Whatever my parents wish, “she said without looking up.

(After we kept prodding, she drew herself away and became a bit awkward. We tried asking her again.)
“So what have they planned for you?”

“I don’t know yet. But I’ll do whatever they decide.”

“Forget your parents for a moment. What if you are given a choice? Then what?”
“Police.”
“Why police?”
“Because my father is one!”

What’s her story?

Disha, appeared confident and mature, amongst other children we met. Even if she had just woken up, she had bright red ribbons braided into her hair. She is 13 years old and attends a local school, opposite her house.

Although Disha comes across as confident, she is scared to admit what she wishes to become one when she grows up. Being a girl has an impact on how far you can dream. Despite her father being a police, she does not have the freedom to do the same, let alone the freedom to think it or say it out loud.

#LittleHumans Of Loni

 

“See! This is our favourite dog!!”

“Yeah? I don’t think he likes me much. He’s just pointing his ‘bum’ at me!”

And then the picture happened.

What’s their story?

Loni, a village about 20kms from Pune is on the Pune – Solapur Highway as well as the main Pune – Secundarabad Railway. The Mula-Mutha passes close to the village. The popular Bollywood actor Raj Kapoor owned a farm close to the village too. A number of scenes in his movies including Bobby and Satyam Shivam Sundaram were shot in this vicinity. The farm is now the location of the MIT Design Institute.

Since Loni has a number of colleges, like design, naval, food technology, engineering, with students coming from all over India, it is a comparatively modern village. The people of Loni are still getting used to people wearing crop tops and ripped jeans and coloured hair and students smoking publicly. They are still getting used to changes happening around them, affecting their lifestyles too. But the influence amongst the villagers doesn’t go unnoticed.

As we take the village road, there is a huge ground right opposite the weekly market place. This space is like a dumping ground, with garbage, faeces, rotten vegetables and broken down cars all over. The public toilet is within the same premises. The foul odour in this place is a constant. The children we interacted with, stay right behind the public toilets.

Anandita Palsule, film making student and Chinmayee Bagade, graphic designing student of MIT Institute of Design, Pune, design learners who enjoy traveling, meeting new people and telling unique stories. This week they tell us stories of children from the village of Loni. #LittleHumans #LittleHumansofLoni

#NoBulliesAllowed

#NoBulliesAllowed – A Youth’s Perspective

“The (You)th can turn the tables, and change the social epidemic, which is bullying and cure it. They have the power to do it, but if only, they realize it, and fight for it, and see the magic that is within them, and choose to spread.”

You know what kills more than drugs, swords, and guns- Words.

In almost all school and colleges, there is this bullying culture that exists and is often overlooked by teachers, and parents. High school movies like mean girls, or 13 reasons why, paint a good picture of the different forms of bullying and the sad news is that bullying is not pure fiction.

There is this never-ending cycle of people picking up on each other, and it creates a cascade effect. Being involved in many anti-bullying campaigns, and being surrounded by teenagers all day, I realized that bullying among teens and youth violence has so many roots and implications.

So many of us are not aware that there are many forms of bullying, and if you are spreading rumors behind someone’s back, you are already there. This link up, to the fact that, we have insecurities that we let on people, but at the end of the day, we are just spreading negativity, that will always find its way back to us.

Acceptance, tolerance, mutual respect, and self-love need to be taught at school. If we educate our kids, about hate speech, and bullying, the number of bullying cases would decrease, and it’s not only children but adults as well, need to take a step back, and let love lead the way.

We have many practical steps, policies and laws to stop bullying, but these are not going to work, if we continue to be unkind to each other and keep playing the game of words.

To everyone reading this, please say NO to bullying and stand up against it, and don’t just repeat this vicious cycle again and again, and let more blood to be spilled. We all have our weakness and strength, and are different in our own and we are born to stand out, not fit in so please let’s embrace our differences instead of bullying someone for the way they are. I’ve written many posts before, on consequences of bullying ranging from suicide to mental health and to anti bullying tips, but I hope that this post serves as a wake-up call and let people reflect back on how, just by not bullying someone, they are radiating so many positive waves, and you do not need any superpower to do that.

To everyone, who thinks that bullying is LOL, and thinks that it does not exist; may I ask you how would you feel if that the person you bullied at school is on the news because he committed suicide because of you? Bullying is not mild or extreme, bullying is killing, either you are a friend or a bully.

The (You)th can turn the tables, and change the social epidemic, which is bullying and cure it. They have the power to do it, but if only, they realize it, and fight for it, and see the magic that is within them, and choose to spread it rather than negative words, which are dementors.

#NoBulliesAllowed – Understanding Bullying Before Addressing It

 

“Bullying builds character like nuclear waste creates superheroes. It’s a rare occurrence and often does much more damage than endowment.” said author, Zack W. Van. Children and adolescents face numerous forms of bullying…at home with siblings, in school with seniors and classmates, in the park with peers and friends…pushing them into isolation or indignation, fear or aggression, mental illnesses and failed relationships, and a spiral of unhappiness, caused by that one bully in their life. Often this bullying is not taken too seriously by parents, families and teachers, due to lack of understanding about what it means to be bullied or not having tangible solutions to rectify it. Here’s a simple explanation of what bullying means and what forms it can take.

What is bullying?

Bullying is the repetitive intent to hurt or damage an individual or a group of people that have little power to help themselves. An epidemic with far-reaching consequences amongst children and adolescents these days, it is a type of violence, a pattern of behaviour rather than an isolated incident, and it has an adverse impact on the victim, the bully and bystanders. An ‘unwanted, aggressive behaviour’ among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power, this behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullies use name-calling, rumors, and sometimes physical attacks to damage their victim’s self-esteem.

 

#NoBulliesAllowed – Unable To Beat The Bully

Bullying today is taking many forms… The blue whale that compels you to commit suicide, the online boyfriend who threatens to expose videos of you, the back bencher in school who forces you to do his homework, the group of popular girls who laugh at you for dressing differently, and the classmate who makes you do the wrong things… Studies show that every third child is bullied in schools in India. Additionally, The evolution of social media and mobile communication may have made it easier than ever for young people to share but they also create an environment that can make bullying “inescapable and even more threatening than ever before” according to a 2013 report by Child Helpline International (CHI). The numbers of such cases are alarming, and the stories are telling of a dangerous phenomena that has always existed, but continues to spiral with the advent and access of social media.

Bullying today is nothing short of a henious crime. Why, one might ask? It can kill a child’s spirit and confidence, scar him physically, emotionally and mentally, worse still, make a criminal of a child who doesn’t understand why it is so wrong to bully another. Bullying can be, and must be stopped. Here’s a listing of some of those cases that made it to the news, but could have seen a different ending:

Mumbai boy. 16 years. Accuses 15 teens of raping him for a year. (2017)

A 16-year-old boy in Mumbai went to the police with a horrific tale of sexual abuse, telling them that he was subjected to repeated rape for over a year by 15 teens in his locality. This boy was first raped in 2016 by a friend at the friend’s home, who recorded the incident on his phone and threatened to leak it, should the victim spoke about it to anyone. The boy, scared of informing his family about the assault, kept his silence, but the ordeal just got worse over the months. The friends to whom the video was leaked went on to blackmail the boy into having sex with them as well. If he refused, he was beaten…and this went on until he couldn’t take it anymore and confided in his friend.

Shahasra. 17 years. Hangs herself in hostel. (2017)

Fed up with being constantly harassed by her seniors and poor facilities at her hostel, a 17-year-old student of Ratnapuri Polytechnic College in Sangareddy district of Telengana allegedly hanged herself in her room.

Aditya. 13 years. Hangs himself to death to complete the Blue Whale Challenge. (2017)

The dreaded game created by Phillipe Budeikin, a Russian psychology student, took the life of an innocent boy in UP. As the last step to the game, which the boy was playing on his mother’s phone… he hung himself to complete the game. Having claimed many lives in India and across the world, this game is targeted at teenagers and forces them to perform several dangerous activities finally leading them to commit suicide.

Shubham Jindal. 14 years. Killed by classmates after bullying. (2015)

The 14-year-old was a promising student. He was made class monitor but the boys who bullied him couldn’t accept this. In the previous year, he had been bullied by them for classroom seats for which he had complained. Every time he complained, they harrassed him more. After Shubham came home and complained about the bullies to his parents, the family brought this to the notice of the principal who assured them of strict action against the bullies. But their action proved counterproductive. On being beaten in class by the teacher for bullying Shubham, the boy was angry and wanted to seek revenge. He planned to trap Shubham with the help of another classmate, that resulted in beating up Shubham so brutally, that he died.

Kolkata girl. 17 years. Killed herself after a friend uploaded a morphed photo of her on social media. (2014)

A Class XI student of a Kolkata school, left behind a six-page suicide note about her “online friend” Faisal Imam Khan, a 23-year-old college student, who had uploaded a morphed picture of her on a social networking site. The two became friends online, and when the girl started having second thoughts about their relationship, Faisal decided to take revenge by publicly defaming her. With help from his friends, he set up a profile using her photos after which she started getting obsecene calls and requests. This led her to hang herself using a dupatta.

Raunak Banerjee. 14 years. Jumps to his death. (2013)

Raunak Banerjee, who read in class IX at Baldwin Boys School, returned from school on June 29, went to the terrace above the 10th floor of his apartment block and jumped to his death. Why? He had been bullied by a schoolmate who travelled with him in a private school van. Bullying by the other school boy involved taunts and humiliation in front of other students.

#NoBulliesAllowed – The Bully In Us

We all have heard the story of little Joey who came home with a black eye. “Joey why did you get into a fight? “asked his father. “Didn’t I ask you to count to 10 before losing your temper?

Yes Dad,” replied Joey, “But Pete’s dad taught him to count till 5 so he beat me to the punch.

I am sure we all see the basic flaw in this parenting gem. Joey and Pete were never told not to lose their temper. Their dads assumed nature would take its course if they were taught a counting technique.

This is exactly what parents do when it comes to bullying as well. How often as parents do we notice our child grabbing, shoving or being mean on the playground? And how often do we sagely say

I never interfere. Children should learn to resolve their own fights.

Or worse how often do we indulgently applaud the child for this inappropriate behaviour by saying

I am glad he/she can stand up for themselves.

There is a thin line between letting children getting in and out of minor scrapes and actively encouraging bad behaviour.

For some reason parents place a great premium on their children “being tough”. What does “being tough” really mean? It means that children will not go crying to Mommy, Daddy or Teacher when things go wrong. They will use their words or if need be fists to deal with any situation.

How often does this defence mechanism turn into bullying behaviour? Almost always. Children soon learn that attack is the best form of defence. While we all think of the school bully as a big strong boy who grunts instead of speaks, bullies come in all shapes and sizes and can be younger as well as older children and girls as well as boys. In fact, each one of us has a bullying streak in us.

We learn at an early age that the value of ganging up against someone, either by using force or by verbal jibes is great. This automatically deflects attention from our own flaws and insecurities.

The one thing children fear the most, which we feared also as children was being different from the others. We knew that any difference would be immediately spotted and unmercifully teased. This could be one’s weight too fat or too thin, a pimple on one’s nose, one’s sense of dress, different food, being praised or scolded by a teacher, a bad grade or even a good grade. Anything that triggers the insecurity of the majority can make someone a minority.

The answer to all this is simple to state-compassion and tolerance. Inculcating these qualities in children and demonstrating them as adults is a totally different ball game. But it is needed now more than ever. It is time to present the other side of the argument to children. It is time to stop children from thinking of self-preservation alone. Let us truly educate children on different perspectives, different lifestyles and normalise the different so different is no longer equated to weird. As adults we need to reflect on who makes us insecure and see if the solution is to lash out at that person in a petty manner or have a more considered response. It is time to acknowledge the inner bully in us and show him/her a better way to cope. It is time Joey and Pete’s fathers met each other.

#NoBulliesAllowed – Silent (Mis)Treatment

 

When Aristotle said “Man is by nature a social animal,” he certainly knew what he was talking about. Being included as part of a social group is far more important to us than we would care to admit. Nathan Dewall a psychologist from the University of Kentucky says that acceptance is absolutely fundamental for human beings and cites how everything around us in society right from school to jobs to reality shows are all about acceptance and rejection.

They say the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. Feeling not wanted or in other words feeling isolated and cut off is the worst and yet one of the most familiar feelings for children and teenagers growing up in any society.

Rejection is probably the easiest weapon at the disposal of human beings and we use it unsparingly. As acceptance is at the core of human behaviour the need for it manifests itself early on in childhood. The tween and teen years when we begin having a significant social life outside the family is when the focus shifts to acceptance by peers. It is therefore not surprising that one of the most common forms of bullying is isolation. Excluding a child from the group, giving them the silent treatment, pretending not to notice them or hear them when they talk are all tricks that bullies frequently resort to. They are not pulled up for this behaviour simply because they are not physically violent. The scars of this kind of silent mistreatment are deeper. With the increase of social media, things like forming class WhatsApp groups and leaving out one child, or posting class photographs with one child conspicuously absent has become the new bullying weapon.

Another common trend is co-opting innocent children into becoming bullies. This means telling some children that they will gain acceptance to a group only if they agree to not befriend a particular child who is being targeted. Extending conditional friendships like “I will be your friend if you let me copy in the exam” or “I will invite you to a party if you do my assignment” are also forms of bullying. As proud parents we think that our kids are too smart to endure or too secure to perpetrate this kind of behaviour. You will be surprised.

Going back to Aristotle the bully is a social animal too and bullying is largely carried out as a group activity. Tim Lott a British journalist and a survivor of bullying in his formative years mentions this in his article “Why onlookers hold the key to standing up to bullies. He goes on to say that the only effective way of stopping bullying is peer pressure. He speaks of how there are stronger children who are non-bullies who do nothing and these children should be encouraged by school to name and shame bullies so that there is enough collective pressure to stop bullying.

Michele Borba the renowned educational psychologist in her book ‘The 6 Rs of Bullying Prevention’ mentions one of the techniques as ‘Respond’ where witnesses should be taught how to respond to bullying.

I agree with Rosalind Weisman an American Educator who said “Sometimes bullies are your friends and bullying prevention tips don’t tell you how to deal with that.” But while it is clear that silent treatment is a part of bullying being a silent onlooker is also mistreatment.

#NoBulliesAllowed – On-Line – Off-Track

When I first let my son go online to watch a YouTube video, like all guilt-ridden parents I felt I had sold a piece of my soul to the devil. That was two years ago. Now the devil has taken over completely. We have purchased enough internet bandwidth to run the Pentagon and all of us from the 91-year-old down to the 13-year-old are obsessed with our respective rectangular screens. The plus side is he has learnt a whole host of new things. He now has an understanding of a universe whether it is gaming or western music that I have no knowledge of. The first thing he does when he encounters anything new is to look up a YouTube tutorial on it. Google Chacha hai toh You Tube Guru hai. I have used this to my advantage to introduce him to topics I think he needs to know about such as classical music, feminism and art but I also have learnt to accept as guests in my bedroom the green-haired internet sensation Jack Septic Eye and the rap genius Kendrick Lamar.

Being an introvert and a teenager is a dreadful combination as the dependency on the online universe is all the more. Thankfully the Indian education system with its punishing load of homework does not really give him too much time. Still when his hand reaches out to the iPad minutes after he opens his eyes in the morning it certainly worries me. However, I don’t micro manage my son’s gadget time as that is for him to learn to do and learn the hard way if necessary. A weekend spent binge watching YouTube videos has led to incomplete homework and meltdowns when I have refused to help. Now he knows that mom is a meanie-head who will not complete his projects for him. Unfortunately, the meanie-head also pays for the internet connection so there is better time management. What I definitely do is keep a tab on the content. Parental locks and firewalls are necessary precautions. Because the internet?… A terrible baby sitter. You might as well let an ex-convict look after your kids with a box of knives and a bottle of vodka for company.

Teaching children to be safe online is as important as teaching them to cross the road correctly or light a matchstick carefully. The rules are the same as safety in the real world. Don’t give out your personal details, don’t talk to strangers. Ask them not to check-in at locations such as malls, restaurants or stores on their smartphones when they go out and make sure they check their privacy settings before they post photographs online. Keep a tab of which online platforms your child is a part of and what kind of content they are posting just as you would be concerned whose home your child goes to and what he/she says at a social gathering. Ideally don’t allow your kids to get on to social media until they are at least 13. If your children are on social media, ask them not to add people to their friends list unless they are known personally. With new apps such as Sarahah guaranteeing anonymity it is just as easy for a stranger to approach a child on the Internet as it is for one to walk up to him or her in a mall or a park. This does not mean ban their online presence. Parents proudly speak of bans but while that may have worked in the era of the television, the era of the internet is different. Also forbidden fruit tastes just that much sweeter. I have always found it is best to trust and communicate openly about safety.

The critical thing is to know your child’s tastes. The people they follow online be it celebrities, YouTubers or world leaders are as important to know as the names and phone numbers of their friends. Understand the appeal of the online entities they follow, and talk to them about it. If need be even, follow those people online. Work in some conversation time with your teens. Ideally doing something they can teach you. In my case it is discussing the super hero universe of Marvel and DC. So while I have to put up with eye-rolling at my lack of knowledge I get to bond with my son.

Learn to pick your battles with your teen. If you nag them about eating their veggies and making their bed they may not come to you with questions about sex. Communicating with teenagers in a non-judgemental way becomes necessary just to know them better. They are not the sweet little toddlers anymore who believed you made the sun shine. They are little people with opinions that matter. As was tragically demonstrated in the fatalities related to the Blue Whale Challenge parents could not believe that their children could have been targeted by a self-harm, suicidal game. While I would never dream of blaming the parent I do believe that keeping a watch out for changes in routine, behaviour and patterns is needed. Be on top of current trends on the internet and how your teen responds to them.

It is also a great idea for parents to have another significant adult the child likes, as part of the loop. We all want to be our child’s best friend but in the toxic teen years it is very possible they hate you. I know mine does from time to time. Don’t take it personally. They might be happy discussing problems with only one parent or even a cool aunt or uncle. It is better they are communicating at all then shutting off completely.

We all remember our grandparents telling us about how they walked five miles to school and how today kids have it easy. I beg to differ. Growing up is far more difficult today than it was for our grandparents, or for us. Don’t dismiss the current generation of children with a typical “Aaj kal ke bachche” comment. Our children have to deal with stimuli we never had to deal with and instead of mourning over lost innocence it is better to equip them to deal with the challenges they face. If we don’t take their side who will?

#NoBulliesAllowed – How To Reduce The Risk Of Internet Stalkers Trapping Children Online

The internet is vast and there exists all types of individuals using this digital medium for different purposes. Amongst all, the ones with nefarious motives to stalk children and bully them are a rising concern for parents. As per the statistics, 54% surveyed of teens have witnessed online bullying:

  • 39% on Facebook
  • 29% on YouTube
  • 22% on Twitter
  • 22% on Instagram

Academic achievements, race, religion, financial status, sexuality are some of the major reasons based on which children are bullied. Protecting children from online predators needs careful monitoring and extensive safety actions to be performed by the parents.

How Cyber Stalkers Trap Children?

Cyber stalkers search for kids through social media websites, online chat rooms, discussions, instant messengers, blogs, etc. Once they have a target, they try to connect with them by passing affectionate messages, sympathize with their problems or induce them using attention grabbing content. They even try to lure children by knowing their interests and hobbies. Pursuing a friendly behaviour, they gradually introduce sexual content into their conversation with the kids in order ease out their shyness. Further, they can even persuade children for face to face interactions and execute their malicious motives.

Protecting Children from Online Harassment

While the easy accessibility to internet through mobile phone and computers is a major reason for children getting stalked online, absence of adult guidance also contributes to such cyber threats. Here are some really effective protective measures that parents should consider for the right upbringing and safety of the children:

  • Maintain Open Lines of Communication

Communication gap between parents and children could be highly dangerous. Working parents who with little time to spend with their child or those who ignore the interests and actions of their children need to actively participate in the ongoings of their child’s daily life. Talk to them on daily basis, encourage them to share their interests and problems, and make them feel comfortable in spending time with you. This helps parents in making a strong emotional bond with the child.

  • Set Rules for Internet Usage But Don’t Impinge

Make a rule about time and usage of internet to ensure that your kid does not spend his entire time browsing websites. Make him understand that there’s a lot that’s positive about the web but he need to understand its dark side and the negatives as well. However, make sure that your child’s sense of privacy and independence should not be impinged in this process.

  • Use Parental Control Tools to Track Online Activities

Careful monitoring of your child’s in online activities is an important step in protecting him from stalkers and attackers with harmful intents. Use an Internet Parental Control Software to know which websites your child browses. Websites with inappropriate content can be simply blocked or put under surveillance without letting your child know. Also, you can set time limit for browsing internet which makes it quite easy for you to control your child’s internet usage.

The Bottom Line…

Cyberstalkers can come out to be more dangerous than you would think – child molesters, psychotic individuals and even serial killers. As they say “Prevention is better than cure”, it is important for parents to improve the safety of their children and act upon the above mentioned preventive measures.

#NoBulliesAllowed – Befriending The Big Bad Bully

We are used to hearing about the problem of bullying and how parents and schools need to intervene. But here’s how Anushka Ganguly’s son learnt to befriend his bully, to set an example for many young boys like himself.

1) Tell us a little about your son. What does his day at school look like?

Last year my son was in the first standard. He used to wake up at 6.30am and catch the bus at 7.30am after a fulfilling breakfast of his favourite food and fruit. He is a foodie I would say with very well developed taste buds. He loves to carry khakhra with chaat masala in his school snack box. He always carried a box to share with his friends. He loves sharing his home and food with friends, During the break he eats and shares his snack with his friends When he was in the Junior KG he was a quiet boy. On parent teachers, his teacher told me told “He’s too quiet, not confident, not focused and easily distracted!” He was 4 years old at that time. That’s when I taught him Anapana Sati Meditation. Within six months of teaching it to him, the teacher described him very differently. He was now making friends, participating in class, and very focused and confident. My son’s journey back home in the school bus begins as 1.10 PM and he reaches home by 2.45 PM. Sometimes children tease him or as he says harass him in the bus.

2) When did you first find out your son was being bullied at school?

My son has been travelling in the bus with the boy who bullied him since Senior KG, when he was 5 years old. The boy wasn’t in his class then, just on his bus. Literally on the first day of first standard, children were shuffled, and this boy found himself in my sons division. That was the day he said that the boy was hitting him and bullying him. Every day since that day, he has complained about being hit by him.

3) What were the telling signs that he was being bullied?

My husband and I have always had an open relationship with our son. He freely shares everything with us. We didn’t have to look out for signs because he came and told us himself. What we did do is communicate with him about this issue on a daily basis…asking him what happened and how he reacted. The meditation I had taught him earlier was a tool he used to deal with the bullying. Everytime there was an incident, he would complain to the teacher and to us. And each of us reacted to it… Seeing that we heard and believed him for what he said, and acted on it, helped in the situation too.

4) How did you and your husband react to it? And what steps did you take to handle it?

The first day he said the bully hit him I told him “Tell him it hurts and that you don’t like it… use your words, not your hands!” He did that. But my husband said the opposite… “Hit him back!” Standing up for himself was important. Using the right way to do it was important too. Despite doing that, he came home everyday complaining of the same incident.

I decided to approach the boy’s mother, who confessed that she had been taking her son to a counsellor. He was suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). She promised to talk to her son, because she understood where I was coming from too.

My husband and I, after consulting our son, enrolled him to learn Taekwondo. Not to hit other children, but to learn how to defend himself if not act offensively, and feel equipped to do so.

5) Did you and the other child’s parents meet face to face? How did the school administration handle this overall?

We did meet face to face with the boy, but at the time he well-behaved. When we met at birthday parties where he was usually accompanied by his mother, my son and the bully would play like best buddies, because he didn’t hurt my son publicly. It was then that I realised… the problem was not with the child, but the lack of parental attention he was receiving. He was acting out in school and with his peers as he craved attention. Whether the behaviour was negative or positive, it did not matter. Sometimes, when I saw my son stand next to this boy, I was shocked at how this tiny boy, 1/3rd my sons size was managing to bully him. But my son expressed his anger and distress in words alone, never using his hand like the other boy.

My husband and I wrote several emails, met the principal and the school counsellor and coordinator of both the 1st and 2nd standards. The school tried all they could to discipline the bully and stop him from hitting my son. The thing we discovered through my son’s communication was that he started hitting my son when there was no adult around or when their attention was elsewhere, so no one would see him and he would tell them that my son had hit him. The class teacher said the bully could not sit in one place in the classroom and would escape from his desk by crawling under it and running to the other end. He was also a compulsive liar and the principal, class teacher, coordinator and counsellor had a tough time dealing with the stories he cooked up. My husband and the bully’s father also decided to meet several times, but it somehow did not work out.

6) What is the situation like today? How have you/ your son equipped him to deal with situations like this in school?

One day my son came and told me that he had accomplished what my husband and me had been unable to achieve. He had somehow made friends with his enemy. We might never know how that happened, or even understand it. But maybe children understand each other better and are far from forgiving than us as adults. My husband and I decided to support our son, and have the boy over at our place once in a while. So I am planning to invite both mother and son over to play with my boy once in a while to see how to develop friendship between the two, the path that my son taught me to take.

The boys are going to be on the same bus route for another 10 years, unless we moved our residence or the boy’s parents did too. My son still doesn’t sit next to him in the bus, because he teases him or bothers him sometimes, therefore we have instructed the didi on the bus to keep them separated. But he does not hit him or bully him anymore.

7) What is your message to parents who are dealing with similar issues on how to handle their child being bullied?

Firstly, empower your child. You cannot protect your child all the time. Teach them techniques of self-defence and self preservation. Teach them non-violent communication. Teach them meditation so they can respond and not react and they do not get marred and scarred by the ups and downs of life, which are going to be there regardless of how much we are there for our children. Prepare them at a young age to deal with the vicissitudes of life in a balanced, realistic way. The insight I have had from my son being bullied for a whole year by a boy 1/3 his size was that the bully was seeking adult attention, not my son or another child’s attention. Both his parents were working long hours and would only see him awake in the morning. When they came home at night the boy was sleeping. The child was taken care of at home by his ageing grandparents and servants. When this boy was sent to sit the whole day at the principal’s office, 1st and 2nd standard coordinators office or counsellors office, he was most happy. It was when he was sent home in the middle of a school day is when his behaviour started changing. Even when he came over with his mother he behaved fine. Bullies are often children starved of their parents’ attention.

#NoBulliesAllowed – On How To Beat The Bully

For many children, school becomes a scary place because that is where bullies find them. Bullying is exceedingly prevalent in Indian schools, and unfortunately goes unaddressed most of the time. According to a survey conducted by the Indian Journal of Paediatrics, 31.4% out of 500 children reported being bullied. Unfortunately, only 24% of them shared their grief with their parents. In the new world of internet, social media and smartphones, bullying has now spread outside classrooms and playgrounds and into cyberspace. 

Bullying denies children the right to a safe, secure and dignified environment, as guaranteed by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. But how do we stop our children from getting bullied or bullying another? How do we control what they say through text messages? Snoop into their phones and laptops? What action must we take as parents and schools to prevent this menace? Change schools, create passwords, deny access?

Here are attempts by people affected by bullying to prevent it from happening to anyone else … A teenage girl affected by the death of another builds an app, parents affected by the suicide of their 11 year old child start a campaign, a school appoints anti-bullying ambassadors to deal with bullying, human and child rights organizations take a pledge to fight this menace through a community led initiative…If you’re looking for a way to beat the bully, read on.

 

1) Rethink

Trisha Prabhu is a 14-year-old student at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, Illinois. From a young age, she has been fascinated with the inner workings of the brain. In 2013, Trisha heard about young girl’s suicide due to bullying on the Internet and set out to find a long-term solution to cyber-bullying. Her research led her to create the product Rethink. Rethink gives adolescents who are trying to post an offensive message on social media a second chance to reconsider their decision.

2) Bullynomore

Amnesty International India’s belief that bullying is a human rights abuse, led them to start bullyingnomore, a human rights education programmes that creates awareness on different forms of bullying, the effects of bullying and finally provides solutions on how to tackle bullying as a student, a school and a parent. Under their amnesty4education initiative, bullynomore provides a comprehensive and holistic approach to addressing the issue of bullying.

3) The BULLY project

The BULLY Project is a social action campaign inspired by the award-winning film BULLY. It has sparked a national movement to stop bullying that is transforming kids’ lives and changing a culture of bullying into one of empathy and action. The power of project lies in the participation of individuals and the remarkable list of partners they’ve gathered who collectively work to create safe, caring, and respectful schools and communities. Their goal is to reach 10 million children or more, causing a tipping point that ends bullying in America.

4) Backtoschool

On the 12th of December 2006, their 11 year old son Ben, took his own life due to bullying at school. Ben’s parents want to see trained Anti-Bullying Ambassadors in schools to ensure other children didn’t go through what their child did. Today, the back to school programme has seen a 69% decrease in perceived bullying incidents in school.

5) Words can hurt

Bullying can happen anywhere and be about anything. CHILDLINE is a helpline service for children and adolescence facing different forms of abuse in schools, at home or anywhere. It provides help, intervention and counselling for children suffering from bullying.

6) Stomp out bullying

STOMP Out Bullying is an organization dedicated to changing the culture for all students. It works to reduce and prevent bullying, cyberbullying, sexting and other digital abuse, educates against homophobia, LGBTQ discrimination, racism and hatred, and deters violence in schools, online and in communities. In this diverse world, it also promotes civility, inclusion and equality. It teaches effective solutions on how to respond to all forms of bullying, as well as educates children and teens in school and online. It provides help for those in need and at risk of suicide, and raises awareness through peer mentoring programs in schools, public service announcements by noted celebrities, and social media campaigns.