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Amnesty International India brings the ‘Bully no more’ campaign

Seeing that 70% of schools have bullying cases in India, Amnesty International India has launched an anti-bullying campaign addressing the whole school approach.

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Amnesty International India has created an anti-bullying campaign – ‘Bully no more’ which is also a part of the Human Rights Education Programme.
The Human Rights Education programme works with schools in India to integrate human rights in daily school life. The programme follows the belief that if dignity, respect, inclusion and non-discrimination become an everyday occurrence, children start living a culture of human rights – a life where they can thrive and grow.

According to a survey conducted by the Parents Teachers Association United Forum (PTAUF) in 150 schools across Mumbai and Thane, 70 % of students experience bullying in school. This shows that its a very prevalent practice in schools and hence the need for the ‘Bully no more’ campaign.

Besides the wide spread nature of this problem, studies have also shown that children who are bullied could experience the effects long into adulthood. The results show that people who were bullied as children were twice as likely to have difficulty in keeping a job in adulthood, while many showed signs of having difficulty in forming social relationships. One group in particular – the bully-victims – so named because to identify people who turned to bullying after being bullied themselves, are allegedly the most vulnerable. They are at greatest risk for health problems in adulthood, over six times more likely to be diagnosed with a serious illness, smoke regularly, or develop a psychiatric disorder compared to those not involved in bullying.

Tara rao, Director, Human rights for education programme, Amnesty International India tells us why bullying is more than just a childhood rite of passage. The social acceptance of bullying as a part of “growing up” exacerbates the problem, with many believing it to be a means by which children can “toughen up” and prepare for adulthood.

However, at its core, bullying is a human rights violation. It is a form of violence that takes away students’ rights to respect and dignity, and infringes on the basic human rights values of inclusion, participation and non-discrimination.

Dr. Shekhar Seshadri, Department Of Child And Adolescent Psychiatry, Nimhans, Bangalore shares how bullying can affect a child and how a ‘whole school approach’ is key to addressing the problem.

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Bullying is a form of systematic abuse of power—the commonest form of aggression in children. It can be ‘direct’ such as physical, verbal, psychological, sexual even virtual(cyberbullying) or ‘indirect’ in the form of social aggression like spreading rumours, refusing to socialise with victim, bullying others who socialise with the target, criticising the victim’s dress or other socially significant markers. Bullying seems to increase from elementary classes to high school years. Though in senior high school level, physical form tends to drop a bit.

Bullying can result in serious consequences in young ones’ life and future. Anxiety, lack of confidence, depression even suicide are not rare consequences in victims.

Anti-bullying programs across the globe have some common elements like awareness of school community especially the teaching staff and parents about the problem. A carefully coordinated ‘Whole School’ approach may be the key for success. For this, first a strict ‘anti-bullying policy’ of the school needs to be formulated and implemented.

These programs vary in many aspects. Intervention strategy variation is the most striking of these. It varies from non-punitive approaches like ‘No Blame’ approach where problem solving is left to students under supervision, or ‘Shared Concern Method’ for adolescents where mediation is done between victim and perpetrator groups through a trained mediator. Victims can also be trained in assertiveness, social skills and empowered to initiate the formation of friend circle or supportive peer group to develop resilience.

While many schools in India are already proactively working against this silent menace, it is getting a big fillip by the involvement of a body like Amnesty International India. Hopefully, with the gradual roll out and implementation of this campaign we will see a reduction in the cases of school bullying across the nation.

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