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Dealing with bullying

The video clip of a bully hitting a man in Ngabephu, Thimphu and forcing him to kiss his shoes, which is being widely circulated on social media, is appalling.

Although not openly acknowledged, bullying happens everywhere in our society – in workplaces, schools, and in gatherings small and big. Often we don’t take a blind bit of notice when it happens and let it pass. So much, probably, is informed and influenced by our culture of tolerance. But when bullying happens to the young and vulnerable, consequences are often sad and painful.

If we asked schools and colleges where bullying is more likely to happen, the answer would be that it doesn’t occur and that management and the authorities do not tolerate such thuggery in their campus. Yet a recent World Health Organisation study found that close to 30 percent of our children are bullied in the schools. The number is worrying.

Being bullied is a predictor of mental health problems and substance use. According to the study, 19 percent of students attempted suicide due to bullying, 12 percent suffered from anxiety, 18 percent had to cope with loneliness, 30 percent took to smoking, 31 percent resorted to taking alcohol, and 14 percent used marijuana.

Bullying takes different forms, from physical bullying that includes hitting, kicking, tripping, pinching and pushing or damaging property to verbal to social to cyber bullying. In the internet age that we live in, cyber bullying otherwise known variously as cyberharassment or online bullying which allows bullies to easily and anonymously harass victims online could have detrimental effect on the young. This unhealthy phenomenon that is becoming the greatest threat to the young people in the west has already begun seeping into our society.

Existence of bullying, therefore, could be linked to the rising instances of youth crimes and substance abuse cases the country is confronting. Education institutions and schools in particular could do better than just denying that bullying exists. We cannot let such thuggery take root in our society.

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