Boarding School and the Burden of Bullying
Those days when I was in boarding school, the majority of what was done to us as juniors were not seen as bullying. You’ll hear them say “it was done to me, so I must do mine to you” Those atrocities were what made them stand out as seniors, and looking back at what they did then, they were totally wrong. Unknown to them, they were setting up trends that were bad and gory. If probably they knew what they were doing then were tagged as bullies, maybe they could have changed everything.
Bullying in boarding high schools is now seen as a norm – and they come in various forms and methods. The common one we grew up to know was the situation where seniors would send juniors errands which they themselves know isn’t right. I remember a JS 1 boy that resumed the hostel one particular evening, another senior went to him, bullied him to drop some of his provisions in the name of being his “school father” – his protector. I can say this is the number one form of bullying that most juniors come across when they resume hostel in secondary school.
I was bullied in school for being a small boy, this went on till I left the school. From memory, this sowed a seed of low self-esteem in me. I had difficulties facing people. It took me years to eventually overcome this fear. I looked back and asked myself why I was always picked on? I couldn’t answer it. And it dawned on me, those seniors were just being wicked, and there is no excuse for such behavior. Last week, a boy was a victim of bullying by his seniors which ultimately led to his death. So many questions now surround his death. “What were the teachers doing? “Was no one a witness to what happened?” I’m certain you’ve also had to ask yourself these questions.
What are School Hostels meant for?
In hostels, children are completely in the custody of the school and their parents are just behind the curtain. They hand over their children in safe hands who can inculcate the sense of discipline, punctuality, self-service, a sense of responsibility, teaching them extracurricular activities, sports, a strong base of studies without coaching, the art of self-dependence, etc. Parents commit their children to school because they believe that the school is capable of doing a good job.
When a child is living in boarding with his teachers, mentors, wardens, and fellow students, they take the decisions independently. They become self-reliant and sometimes they turn out to be good citizens, good officers in civil services, army, etc. They live a very happy and disciplined civilized life. In day schools, parents support their children, they make decisions on their behalf, which itself is a big obstruction in the education system of a child.
What has become of our Hostels?
When you ask parents why they cannot allow their children in boarding schools, the issue of bullying will always come up. You cannot blame them, the news on students dying from bullies and assaults in boarding schools is enough to scare them off. Bullying is a common practice in boarding schools, and children remain fearful of their seniors most of the time. Some incidents of suicide are sometimes found among students in boarding schools and parents are unable to find out the causes behind them.
What should be done?
It is common for schools and parents of students to always sweep cases like this under the rug. I believe that if issues like that are tackled head-on, we won’t be these kinds of problems around us. Parents should be ready to stand their ground whenever their kids are bullied in a school. If they feel that the school is not doing anything to help the situation, they are within their right to change their wards school. No child’s life is worth being wasted over negligence and nonchalant behavior on the path of the school administration.
As for the school, if a known bully has refused to change, or perhaps the parents are not willing to help, you should not hesitate to send such a child away from the school. Schools make the mistake of covering up cases like this just because they do not want to lose their students and parents. But let me ask you this, what do you think will happen if your school is known as such that entertains bullies? YOU WILL NOT HAVE STUDENTS ENROL IN YOUR SCHOOL AGAIN!
Would you rather send a student away and save your school’s reputation, than cover up a bully and lose your reputation? In this case of eradicating bullying in our schools, it takes the effort of school administration, teachers, and parents themselves to put an end to this.
SAY NO TO BULLYING OF ANY FORM!!!