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Inside the mind of a bully – News

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Sometimes, children who have been victims of bullies can become aggressors themselves.

On Monday, February 10, a video of a 13-year-old schoolgirl in a Dubai school bullying her schoolmate went viral on social media. The 57-second clip showed the girl violently tugging at the hair of another student and threatening her. The nature of the video shocked the school and parent community and rattled residents into launching a serious conversation about the prevalence of bullying in UAE schools.

Following media reports, the private school she was enrolled in said it has taken ‘appropriate action’ against the student and the Dubai’s private school regulator Knowledge and Human Development Authority started an investigation.

Types of bullies

While an attack from a bully can cause mild to severe physical harm, it is the psychological impact on the mind of a victim that can cause long-lasting damage.

Sometimes, children who have been victims of bullies can become aggressors themselves.

Though there is a lot of information dedicated and policies issued to ensure a ‘bullying incident does not happen again’, not much is done to stop this problem, which, according to experts, is understanding it.

According to Sneha John, a child and adolescent psychologist with LifeWorks Holistic Counselling Centre, circumstances in their home environment leads bullies to behaving the way they do. “There are two types of bullies – the ignored child and the entitled child. Children who are neglected at home and children of overindulgent parents end up becoming bullies. The entitled child is also often the last child.”

She added: “Deep inside, a bully suffers from severe self-esteem issues. If you look deeper, they are insecure and tend to pick on meek, quieter victims.”

Early signs of a bully

John said there are easy ways to spot a bully. “Victims do not maintain eye contact; however, bullies will look straight into the eye.” Children who bully tend to show a ‘cool streak’. “They will use curse words in their greetings and tend to be rule-breakers. They would talk about smoking, swearing, seeing bad videos and have a general curiosity for ‘socially unacceptable behaviour,” she explained.

Home environment, communities make a bully

Gavin Walford-Wright?, chief people, marketing and admissions officer at Taaleem Education, said: “The definition of bullying has an impact on this response. Is bullying a one-off incident or a persistent pattern of behaviour that happens over a sustained period of time. There is no test or list of experiences that will result in this type of behaviour.”

He explained: “It can be caused by a never-ending list of experiences ranging from personal insecurities, the need to fit in and be accepted by a certain group of peers, jealousy, personal experience of this behaviour in a domestic situation, watching it on TV, being exposed to it on social media, influences of peers and elder groups, long-standing rivalries, the list goes on.”

Gavin said in some cases, children are modelling the behaviours they witness at home and in their communities, believing that because they witness family members or respected members of the community behaving in such a way it must be acceptable. “Often, it is only following an event and sometimes a significant incident that the patterns of behaviour are identified and the real reason for it discovered. In many cases, children will state that they didn’t mean it, or they were just playing. In other cases, the bully may not recognise that what he or she is doing is hurtful,” he added.

Can bullying be nipped in the bud?

From a psychologist’s perspective, early intervention is the best way to help a bully. John said: “One has to nip it in the bud. If not for early intervention, there is a high chance for bullies to turn into sociopaths.”

Sara Hedger, head of child safeguarding and child protection, GEMS Education, said: “Educators always need to be vigilant, continuously building and strengthening positive relationships with students. When educators understand their students, they are in a good position to identify any changes in behaviour – changes that are important indicators showing there may be something wrong.”

dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com

Use social media sensibly

As the video of a bullying incident in a Dubai school went viral on Monday, spirited social media users, teenagers in particular, did not hesitate to share the alleged bully’s and her parents’ social media accounts and posted screenshots of direct messages that were sent to them. Many comments expressed concerns, and some raised the conversation about the prevalence of bullying on school campuses.

However, several comments made direct and vicious attacks at the girl, with most users forgetting that she is only a teenager and has her entire life ahead of her.

Social media users, especially the younger ones, often forget about the implications of misusing these platforms.

Gavin Walford-Wright?, chief people, marketing and admissions officer at Taaleem Education, said: “Schools make every effort to educate their students about the implications of misusing social media platforms and other means of communication.

However, they are one part of a complex jigsaw puzzle in which they must collaborate with families and the wider community in ensuring that young people take responsibility for their actions.”

He explained that young people need to be consistently reminded that their digital footprint is traceable and can be used against them by, for example, future education establishments and employers to look into their past. “Any compromising content can have a significant impact on their future, and this must be made explicit to them. There are several, high-profile examples that can be used to highlight how destructive publishing compromising and hurtful content can be,” Gavin added.

Sara Hedger, head of child safeguarding and child protection, GEMS Education, said: “This is not just an issue for schools or parents; this is an issue for society as a whole. Agencies, regulators, social media companies, schools and colleges must all work together to educate staff and parents, so they can talk to students and children about this subject. Opportunities to reassess the curriculum and involve students in planning and delivering sessions to other students can be effective.”

dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com

author

Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person, and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics, and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling, and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88







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