Bullying can destroy a child’s life. There are way too many proofs of that, worldwide. And Lebanon is not immune to the phenomenon, as some videos on social media have shown recently, as well as registered data accumulated by associations over the past years. Because every child has the right to grow up without fearing violence or intimidation, it is time for us, as parents, as responsible adults belonging to a community, to confront the problem and spread awareness.
There is no singular definition of bullying, but it can be defined as repetitive behaviors of harassment, intimidation and social exclusion of the victim, that implicate various forms of physical, psychological or verbal violence, in order to hurt or frighten weaker people. What you should know is that in Lebanon, 1 out of 2 children will have been bullied at some point in their lives. Physical bully is the most common form of bullying, followed by verbal, then social bullying, and finally, a rising form of bullying: cyberbullying, that is even more difficult to prevent.
No one is born a bully. Bullying is a learnt behavior and not an innate characteristic! And being bullied does NOT mean that you are weak.
Dismissing bullying by thinking it will stop by itself, that reacting would be “overreacting” or “over-sensitive” is just denial, because it is just easier to ignore it or pretend it is nothing.
Statistically, those who experience bullying are likely to go on later and bully other people. Bullies learn bullying either by experiencing it, or by witnessing it on a regular basis from adults. Most often, within their own families. They often suffer anxiety, and misread others, therefore seeing hostility in neutral situations. They have a lack of empathy and social skills, so they typically need to feel good about themselves, and it is easier to pick on a weaker one than face and manage their own emotions.
BULLYING IN NUMBERS IN LEBANON
Sadly, most incidents remain unreported, especially in teenagers.
- 90% of bullied children who reported being bullied are bullied at school,
- 51% of which, in the classroom itself, the teachers sometimes choosing to ignore the bullying. 32% report being bullied at least once a week, and 21% several times a week.
- Nearly half of children having witnessed someone being bullied admit that they did nothing about it.
- 20% of the time, no immediate action is taken by the teacher to stop the bullying
THE CONSEQUENCES OF BULLYING
Numbers show that 16% of children who experienced bullying skipped days of school, and 12% totally dropped out of school. 29% see their grades drop. 70% of bullied children show signs of depression and 27% withdraw from social activities. Some will go as far as attempting suicide. #bullyingisnojoke
- Over a quarter of children say that their schools have to rules or policies to prevent bullying, whereas,
- an overwhelming majority (93%) of them wants their schools to take action and start actions to prevent and condemn bullying.
However, prevention also starts at home! Indeed, in Lebanon, bullying remains a “taboo” issue, and many adults dismiss it as “just part of growing up”, and believe that children need it to “toughen up”. That is typically an attitude that will discourage children from speaking up to their elders.
Parents need to start addressing the issue and ask their children about life at school, in order to find out how others are treating them, or how they are treating others. They need to establish a culture of “accountability” and teach their children that they are responsible for their behavior, and that they have to respect and accept others for what they are.
Also vital is the classroom environment created by the teachers; simple activities and discussions can really encourage togetherness and establish equality among students.