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Bullying - a serious problem in our society

Smita Islam was one of the students of a well reputed English medium school of Dhaka city. She loved to go to school, make new friends, and hang out in her favourite gift shops. But recently, the world around her began to change. She no longer wanted to go out to play, she almost loathed going to school and her schoolwork began to suffer immensely. Smita was a victim of bullying.
Due to her heavy weight and her chubby looks she was criticised by almost anyone and everyone at her school. She was called various names, starting from "moti" to "big mama". Smita slowly started to hate herself and rarely looked at the mirror. Her eating habits worsened even more and whenever she felt unhappy she just popped some food into her mouth to relieve her from the mental agony. She found no other way to ease her tension and never even wanted to talk about this matter with her parents out of sheer embarrassment. Smita passed her days in fear, silence and self-resentment. Now she is a girl of 18 years of age, who spends most of her time locked up in her tiny room. A place where no one is there to tease or even disturb her; a place where she can have complete solitude. Smita's illness was diagnosed as a form of mental disorder.
There are thousands of Smitas living in different spheres in our society who are constantly being bullied and teased. But these young girls are helpless there is no one to listen to their complaints.
It's not that only girls are being bullied or are falling under the eye of eve teasers. Young boys especially in their teenage years also become the victims of this cruel act. Karim Rahman who used to study in a public school of Dhaka city was a victim of constant brutal bullying by an older boy of his own school. The boy used to taunt him, stole school supplies from him and even demanded that he buy snacks for him everyday. The older boy even threatened to beat him up badly if he refused to do what he was told. But Karim was frustrated and he couldn't tolerate the constant pressure from the older boy. One day Karim decided that he would talk to the bully himself no matter what the outcome. So, he summoned all his courage and confronted the older boy. The result - the 12 year old boy was mercilessly beaten up in front of the whole school. It was too late when the authorities came to the scene to stop the fight.
This kind of scene can be seen regularly in our society. It is not only in schools that innocent children get bullied. Even in the playgrounds, many boys and girls fall into the traps of vicious people. But little is said or done to stop this in our society. Therefore, most of the children who are victimised cannot express their anger, and suffer from depression at a very young age.
Sustained bullying can leave children feeling unhappy: they can lose their confidence, and have suicidal thoughts. They cannot focus on their studies (as it happened in the case of Smita) and their attitude towards their parents. They often become defiant and ill-mannered. In this kind of situation, parents and teachers both can play vital roles and take effective steps to beat the bullies. Schools need to take bullying more seriously, as it can cause permanent psychological and physical damage to our children. Strict rules should be instituted by the schools so that the innocent children do not have to face this kind of situation. In extreme cases, the bullies must be punished and even expelled by the school authorities. If the bullies are not stopped then many intelligent students may end up dropping out of school to avoid the torture. Parents should also be supportive in this kind of situation. They should emotionally support their children so that they do not suffer from depression or any kind of mental agony. In some cases they should be extra cautious, as the young boys and girls can get involved in drugs and opt for self-destruction and therefore, make it a means of relieving their pain.
It is not that only the bullied suffer from grave psychological problems - it should also be seen that the bully himself or herself is suffering from some kind of mental trauma or tension. In some cases, the bully might be coming from a family where there is a lack of parental care or attention. In these cases, they try to tease others and express their anger on others, which they fail to do at home. Therefore in this way they receive attention in a very wrong way. Whereas there are some cases where the bully just has fun by watching others suffer and takes pleasure out of it. Neither of these are normal attitudes and these cases should be taken seriously to prevent the damage to children's behaviour. Counselling might help which can make the bullies stop their cruel acts and make them think before they do any harm to others. The school also had the responsibility of giving the bully the help he or she needs so that he or she can address the underlying causes of his or her behaviour.
It is actually very shameful that even in our literate society the act of bullying still persists. It will continue to do so if the necessary actions are not taken against it. So no matter how minor the case is, bullying needs to be tackled from the start. If we ignore the problem, our children may suffer, both psychologically and psychically, and they are the future of our society.

Sarah Zermin Huq


The patrol police of Khobar

If you know the abbreveation of 'Police' and what it stands for, you will be amazed to find the difference between the literal meaning of the word 'police' and the real 'police'. The real police have become a sign of terror and tremor. In the public eye, the police are nothing but a licensed organisation to put the innocent civilians behind bars and even to take away life in the dungeons of darkness by applying the third degree. Often they are regarded as corrupt thugs intimidating their captives to extract the desired statements to make a favourable report. The word 'police' usually scares ordinary people and a policeman is looked down upon as a bugbear.
The meaning of 'Police' in the dictionary is different. The breakdown of its abbreviation is further surprising.
P-politeness, O-obedience, L-loyalty, I-intelligence, C-courtesy, E-efficiency.
If all these superlative nouns were put to practice by police the picture of our society in general and the picture of police in particular would have changed dramatically.
Having said all these things, some very laudatory and trustworthy stories of the patrol police of Eastern provinces, particularly of Khobar and Dammam are documented here.
I am a government employee working with the ministry of health for the last fifteen years. In 1988 when I first came to Saudi Arabia, I was posted to a tiny desert station 'Khurais' situated midway between Riyadh and Alhasa. Although tiny, Khurais used to have its due importance being the recipient of a lot of emergencies due to road traffic accidents. Our dispensary, though closed after working hours had to be opened whenever there was an emergency. The accidents took place mostly at night, due to the marauding camels. I still remember the devotion and responsibility of the police personnel who became a decisive factor in the preservation of the lives of these casualties. The role of police was more pivotal than the medical squad. In all emergencies, time is a great factor for the outcome of critical patients. Our main task was to refer these cases generally to Hofuf after giving emergency care. The vigil and vigour of the patrol police sometimes even created pressure on medical attendants, and were possibly responsible for averting death and complications in many cases.
In the meantime I was transferred to Hofuf and finally to Khobar where I am settled now. A few days ago in a weekend party the discussion at one stage turned to the patrol police. After initial criticism, the guests started narrating their tales about the patrol police as they recounted their experiences.
A physician colleague was hurrying to school to pick his children up after his morning work. At the zenith of a bridge one of his tires burst. Scared, he swiftly tried to replace the flat tire. Out of the blue appeared a patrol car and parked behind him. A young policeman approached him and asked him to make space and to relax. Right away, the policeman took over, replaced the flat tire, and left without waiting for a thank you. The perplexed doctor just kept on gazing at the vanishing caprice.
Another friend recalled his macabre memory. Once he was returning from Riyadh to Dammam. The sun had set already and about hundred kilometres away from Dammam, he got the kick of a nightmare. A flat tire. His young wife with an infant baby on her lap was sitting unperturbed next to him. Without realising the gravity of the situation she smiled. He tried to remain calm but could control himself no more when he found the spare was also flat. On a remote highway accompanied by family with two flat tires and looming darkness, he froze. He didn't have to wait long however. A patrol car with flashing lights and sirens appeared and parked nearby. The thumping of his heart and his worries increased at the sight of the policeman. He heard so many things about the police. After reviewing the situation, the policeman took both the flat tires with him and asked them to lock themselves inside the car. He advised them to wait till he returned. My friend was skeptical. The waiting seemed unbearable. Finally the patrol car returned. The policeman fixed the tires and apologized for being late. The repair charge and a 'thank you' were exchanged. My friend still couldn't believe all this until he reached home safe and sound. His doubts about the patrol police disappeared, forming a permanent commendation and respect in his heart.
A catharsis of recollection about the patrol police and their magnanimity continued from different quarters. I recalled my own encounter which I can't relate here because of lack of space. Indeed these were some of the incredible stories of the diligent few who put in the hours. They are the heroes. The heroes who live forever.

Dr. Syed Ahmed Mortada



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