July 2008

The Schoolyard Bully

July 2008
By Ranj Dhaliwal

Among the many things that occur in schools, bullying is a widespread concern that must be addressed.  Imagine not wanting to go to school because you know you will be pushed around, made fun of and beat up.  Now imagine how many students undergo this treatment on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

I am against bullying and consider those that are bullies to be weak.  Those that have the strength to continue attending classes whilst knowing that they will get a beating soon are the ones with the real strength.

Bullying comes in many forms and not only injures a student’s confidence, it also injures their education.  I have always tried standing up for the underdog and teaching them to stand up for themselves, but that only goes so far.  For the most part, bullies don’t listen because they have it in their heads that what they are doing is alright and most likely acceptable behaviour by their families.  Physically injuring a student is bad enough, but it is upsetting to hear that these bullies are disturbing their victims’ education as well.

I was at an event recently and a bunch of kids aged roughly 12 to 15 were horsing around.  One kid was smaller than the rest and was being thrown around by the entire group.  A few times they wanted to see how far they could throw him while getting momentum by swinging him from his arms and legs.  I stopped them the first, second and third time they tried to do this while they were around me.  When it came to the fourth time, I made a comment to another adult male and he said that it is okay as long as it doesn’t seriously injure him and that this will toughen the smaller youth.  Will it really? I’m sure that sooner or later the victim will revolt and the bullying will stop, but this also increases the chances that that victim will eventually turn into a bully as well.  Is this what we want for their futures? There are tough guys all over the place, but the real toughness comes from within.  To continue, the kid ran away from the group while laughing, but I could see it in his eyes that he was embarrassed when thrown around.  The group caught up to him and would wrestle him down each and every time.  I had enough of this and told them to chill out.

Why is it that we need to toughen a physically weak youth so that he or she can fit in with the rest of the youths?  Why can’t we get the message to the bullies that their inner weakness is what is making them push smaller kids around?

I knew a person that was bullied through high school and dropped out because of it.  On a daily basis he would worry about the beatings at school and the embarrassment that came with it.  What was amazing was that the victim and the bullies are the same ethnic group.  That’s a sad example of what can happen when bullied, and there are so many other sad stories from the victims of bullying.

The media recently reported that the police described gangsters as schoolyard bullies.  These are the same guys that were picking on those that were physically weaker than them and continue to do so with their new life of crime.

I wonder why an adult that is being bullied can get help from the police but when youths at school are being bullied it is characterized as a norm of growing up and going to school.  Maybe the police should hold assemblies every year at high schools to let the youths know that assault and harassment is a crime and they may face jail time if they do partake in bullying.  Is this what we have to resort to now?

I’d like to go to the schools and teach the victims of bullying to defend themselves and really put those bullies in their place, but violence seldom solves these types of problems.  If one student manages to defend themselves from a bully then the bully will just continue on to another victim.  Defending oneself is okay when all other options have failed.  Other options include speaking to parents, teachers, principals, counsellor, etc. on the bullying problem.

For the youths that are reading this, I hope you will speak to your counselors, parents, teachers, etc. if you have been victimized by bullies.   No, don’t think you’re ratting out because what you are doing is helping these bullies out of the gang life that they may be destined for with early intervention.   Trust me, you will find that there are many students that will applaud you for your efforts in trying to get the education you have every right to get by eliminating bullying from schools.  And to those students that turn a blind eye to bullying – defend those that can’t defend themselves by reporting what you see, and shunning the bullies for their actions.

I can go on with many stories of bullying, but one stands out from a recent conversation with a youth.  This high school youth kept experiencing incidences in which their turban would be knocked off their head by fellow students.  First thought that went through my head was racism, but then the youth continued the story.  It wasn’t Caucasian youths that were victimizing this individual; it was Indo-Canadian youths.  I was stunned.  What is going on in these youths’ homes that they are not taught to respect those that have chosen a peaceful religious life?

Like I said, there are many other stories, but a major trend in schools is that the minorities, be it South Asian, Asian, Middle Eastern, European Caucasian, etc., are the ones that are victimized.  In my day there was a lot of racism at school because the majority was Caucasian, but now race doesn’t matter because bullying comes in all shapes, forms and colours.

It is the parents’ responsibility to ensure their child is not a bully.  Children mimic the actions of their parents/leaders.  A good leader is a fair leader that sees all as equals.  If your child is a bully then look in the mirror and figure out what steps you can take to make the change.  Change yourself for the better and watch your children change as well.  A great man once said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

A bully is someone that is looking to lead and show that they have power.  One of my role models, who was also a very great man and leader, said, “To conquer the world you must conquer your mind and see the brotherhood and equality of all mankind.”

Until next time …