Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, January 22, 2004






By Marwa

The picture that flashes across most people's minds on hearing the word 'bully' is that of a big, fat, smirking guy with muscular arms, huge hands and unbelievable strength. Of course, it does not necessarily have to be that way. In fact, I know about some who happen to be the shortest and thinnest in class, with a moustache that has not yet grown fully.

What is it that makes bullies bully? As most bullies would say, 'It is fun!' For the bullies at school and their friends, it is the only form of entertainment after the long, tiresome day. 'After all, we do need to do something other than studies,' one such commented. He had once taken the bag of an innocent victim and kept it on the sunshade outside the window. After searching for it for ages and without being able to tell the teachers 'I have lost my bag,' the poor boy was unable to take any form of notes for the rest of the day. He did not want to think about what might happen when he went back home without his heavy bag slung over his shoulders. The others had a great time seeing his confusion and replying 'I have no clue!' every time he asked. Near the end of the day, the bully himself leaned against the window and exclaimed, 'Oh look what I've found! Finders keepers.' Although he did return the bag and the victim realised that it was 'finders hiders' rather, he could not do anything about it but seethe in rage. Some bullies like to pester their juniors, some prefer smaller kids from the same class, while others give the new students a hard time. 'Changing schools is hard enough… they make it harder still,' is a common complaint by newcomers.

Starting from petty crimes like stealing stationery or lunch, hiding bags and blowing in the ear, some go to such extents that it gets simply unbearable for the victim. Some start fights with the small, pale kids for no reason at all. It is just that they know that they will win no matter what. I have heard of seniors who simply shove their juniors violently every time they pass each other on the stairs or raise them by the collars to threaten them. When asked about what fun they derive from bullying, most say 'It is just so much fun to see their frightened expressions, trying to free themselves from our grip. Some keep saying sorry even though there weren't any "crimes" committed. They seem to believe everything we say! If we go ask one, "Why did you slap my friend?" even if he hasn't, there are no protests! Most plead guilty and ask for forgiveness! It makes you feel so powerful, not to mention important! Also, it's fun for everyone around you. And the best part is when you relate the story to the ones who weren't present to witness it. They make you feel like you are "The Boss!" It's worth it to spice up, like, a hundred lives in exchange for the misery created in just one, isn't it?' Well, that is just the bullies' point of view!

This other bully was once proudly describing something that he had done. He was walking with a group of friends when a thin and pale kid was walking past. One of his friends dared him to scare the living daylights out of that child. Putting down a dare wasn't 'his sort of a thing.' So he pushed the child to a wall, raised him by the collar and asked him never again to walk in front of them with that air of confidence. The frightened kid ran away as soon he was let go, not daring to look back. This particular bully thinks that bullying is a means of popularity and 'coolth,' which is what he lives for. He would probably have done better had he thought of himself in the victim's shoes. Let's just hope he does so soon!


A Serious Problem in Schools

By Ayesha Sanchita Mahmud

Have you ever had someone throw mud at your face or trip you repeatedly? Have you ever had someone burn the tips of your hair with a lighter and then laugh at you when you screamed? Well, I have. I know that I am different from the other kids at school. I know that it takes me a while to learn new things and I am not the brightest student in the class. I know that my hair is always a tangled mess and I know that I stutter when I speak. But isn't everything God created perfect? Then, am I not perfect? Who are they to call me names; who are they to judge me…

Bullying has become a common phenomenon in most schools in Dhaka. Very often it is overlooked by teachers and also parents. Childhood is the time for playing pranks on your friends and having a good laugh about it later. Harmless teasing and small pranks are not serious problems. Sometimes, they bring some colour and laughter to an otherwise dull classroom. However, when one person is singled out for all the pranks and hurtful comments, it becomes objectionable.

As much as we would like to think otherwise, bullying happens all around us. Dishonest policemen bullying the street vendor, teenagers bullying small children to do errands for them, car drivers bullying rickshaw-pullers. However, what is most painful to see is children bullying other children. Bullying can take up many different forms. In most cases it is just verbal, including repeated name-calling, insults and rude comments. Children can sometimes sense another child's weakness and they can exploit that weakness. Sometimes children gang up on a classmate in large groups and pester him/her constantly. For a young child the experience can be traumatising, often leaving him too scared to attend school. Many students do badly in their studies and lose their confidence. Teachers and parents often do not regard bullying to be a serious issue and consider it an inevitable part of childhood. Yes, children will tease each other and have fights but when things get out of hand it is important for someone to step in. It does not have to be the school authority or the guardians. Even classmates can put a stop to bullying by befriending the victim and turning the table on the bullies.

"Bullies are cowards"-the saying has become such a cliché. It does not matter to a child whether his six-foot tall bully is a coward or not. What matters to the child is that he knows he is loved and that he is special. Confidence and self-belief are very important. When I asked a friend of mine what he felt like when he was bullied in school, he replied nonchalantly, "Their words never hurt me. I didn't have a very high opinion of them, so it didn't matter what they thought of me. I only cared about what the people I liked thought of me." Standing up to your bully, however, may not always be a good idea. When things get out of hand, it is time to seek help from an adult.

Bullying is a serious problem in schools and playgrounds and it must not be taken lightly. We are all content to live in our own ignorant world but life is not a fairytale. Children must be taught from a very early age to consider others' feelings and to treat others with respect. It may be cute to watch a four-year-old steal a chocolate from his unsuspecting younger brother, but even that is bullying, to a certain extent. So the next time you see someone being bullied make yourself heard. How would you feel if you were the one being bullied by your classmates? Defending yourself is important, but standing up for others is what real courage is all about.



home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

© 2003 The Daily Star