Bullying in school age children : Part 1


When I started to discuss about writing an article on bullying, the concerns came pouring in from fellow educators and parents of school going children. Not to mention from children themselves. This is not a new issue. Not a unique challenge for schools. Not something each of us has not known in our growing years. However, the proportions it has taken now, take a look at the few of these links below as a sample – I thought of tackling it one step at a time. It does need to be tackled. It does need to be stopped. And for that it needs to be understood.

14 year old leaps to his death after bullying

West Virginia boy 9 kills bullying family


Lawsuit alleges pervasive violence in NYC schools


As an educator, for any topic that is vast and complex, one which has varied level of understanding and thus tolerance of by children, parents and teachers in different contexts and geographies, I structured the topic of ‘Bullying’ in three parts. That of understanding, preventing and dealing. What else you would like me to include in this series?

What is understood as bullying in schools and what factors lead to becoming a bully or a child at risk of being bullied?

What does it mean?

The dictionary meaning of Bullying, in Hindi, ranges from ‘Badmaash’ to ‘Gunda’ and ‘Dhaunsia’; ‘Harcelement’ to ‘brute’ in French; ‘Acoso’ to ‘abuso’ in Spanish; ‘ Mobbing’ and ‘Drangsalieren’ to ‘Tyrannisieren’ in German… the words range in intensity. However, the common essence is that of unwanted and aggressive behavior.

What does it look like?

Unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power balance. Often, the behavior is repeated. It may be amongst the same set of children or the bully/bullied might change over time. Or, the circle of influence of the bully might expand. Children who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.

How is a situation identified to be that of bullying?

In order for a situation to be considered as that of bullying, besides the behavior to be aggressive, look out for :


A clear indication of bullying is fundamentally to be understood as an imbalance of power. Children who bully are most likely to use either their physical strength, or access to some secret like an embarrassing information, an escapade, a prank that may be considered unpardonable or unacceptable, a rendezvous that is not acceptable to the family/school/peers of the child/ren who is/are being bullied. Sometimes, children who are popular for their attitude or appearance, or are cognitively sharper etc.  use this power to control and /or physically and/ or emotionally/ psychologically harm the other child/children. The imbalance of power can change over time and at different situations, with same or different people. Bullies often make threats, spread rumors, physically attack, verbally abuse, form cliques, exclude the other child/ren from a group.

Who bullies and who gets bullied?

There are several factors that can make a child or a group of children bullies or get bullied.

Some of those who are potential targets for being bullied for example are:

  • Children who look different from their peers in some way or the other as obese/underweight, short sighted/astigmatism/wear correction or reading glasses, new to class/section, from different socio-economic strata – poorer or richer, studious/smart/nerd/laggard.
  • Children who stammer, appear anxious, have poor body image, exhibit low self esteem.
  • Children who have few friends, who are less liked, are less popular, belong less to any group in class/school.
  • Children who are annoying, unclean, provocative, smelly or antagonise some child/ren for some reason.
  • Children who are depressed, come from in-attentive/broken/separated/ busyfamily, or are over chaperoned and monitored, or are not heard or attended to adequately.

Likewise, there are some factors that can create bullies out of some children. Some of those for example are:

  • Children who are very close to their peers over years and are constantly pre occupied  towards making themselves popular in any which way they can.
  • Children who like to dominate, who like to steer conversations, who like to talk but not listen, who want to compete but not collaborate, who do not like to acknowledge contribution or give credits where due.
  • Children who are aggressive, get easily frustrated, think less of others, think of themselves as more competent than others, cannot tolerate those who they or others think are more competent than themselves in any way.
  • Children who have contempt for rules, have friends who break them, who want to rebel continuously on every matter and also bully others.
  • Children who have seen and experienced verbal and/or physical violence as a way of expressing their views and asserting themselves.




More on bullying, in part -2 . Please send in your views and concerns, thoughts and queries. Especially situations that according to you were incidences of bullying and how was it handled. Or was it? How else could it have been handled differently and/or better? Please exclude or change names as necessary to maintain confidentiality. I will include it in the next discussion in this AskNiv series on Bullying. You can post your mail id if you want to be notified when it is published.







12 thoughts on “Bullying in school age children : Part 1

  1. Quoting a personal incident , would like confidentiality .
    A medico was insulted by her mates by drawing a face on the board with pimples as she had acne .
    Such a thing is definitely not expected from such mature students .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A topical issue, not to mention timeless!
    Adding to what you have said so well, I think a school, being a microcosm of society, also reflects and reinforces the relationships in the world around. This is shown in aspects like a kid’s body image, clothing choices, topics of discussion etc. In an increasingly intolerant world, especially about a fellow person’s point of view, schools have major challenges in maintaining a supportive and civil environment.
    Social media also impact how kids see themselves. Kids get on to the various platforms very soon and often lose control of what happens there, as there is very little regulation of behavior.
    Online bullying is very real and self worth is often measured in number of followers/likes/views/comments. Cliques are formed faster and maintained effortlessly. Isolating people is not that difficult.
    However complex the problems may be, the answers could come from aware homes and families, reinforced by school and other supportive environments.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Niv- Lovely opening article here – I have been researching this topic quite a bit just to figure out a remedy (or a set of remedies) for this complex issue — I stumbled on this movie called a “a girl like her” – it opened my eyes how physical abuse is a very small portion, and there is a lot invisible – and more so with teen girls – and how it starts from a dysfunctional family atmosphere — of course taking complete advantage of what they may have compared to the others is the cause — looking forward to know more through your eyes and words

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Very relevant topic and very well written. I think it’s important to understand the EQ ( or lack of it) of a bully. Getting into the mind of a bully may actually help us as adults or educators to eliminate the problem if we are willing to lend a sympathetic ear to the bully. All of us need to understand that it’s the behavior of the bully that is unpardonable, not the bully himself. One needs to separate the behavior from the person. Quite often the bully is experiencing or witnessing situations that lead to low self esteem and this manifests into unwanted and objectionable behavior. If the bully can somehow be stopped, then no one needs to fear bullying. There has to be a person in whom the ‘bully’ can confide. Less than perfect parenting sometimes contributes to bully behavior, but it’s important that teachers remain neutral and not push the child into a corner which will actually worsen the situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Indeed a good article and we’ll drafted. Even child has experinced this in one or the other forms. It’s starts with joke or friend’s gossips most of the time, thousands of such incedances are not even noticed or reported at the same time each action has reaction in child’s growth, physiology and behaviour. Am sure the other will cover details on this In next articles…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Niv
    I agree the patience level of both kids and parents are really on the threshold and reaction time is fast.We could blame on the ever demanding society. My question is how to control this without putting consequences in place even if it for a short time?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Nivedita, a very well thought out article. Given today’s world of fast thoughts and faster actions; it certainly takes a lot of time, thinking and introspection to really underdstand this situation. Working with children for a decent amount of time, it never ceases to amaze/shock me on how many different ways kids can hurt one another and how in certain times children are more resilient than adults to be able to handle those situations- kudos to them!!
    My 2 cents on this topic – parents, schools and community at large need to understand that we consciously need to teach our kids and ourselves the act of self awareness and acceptance. We strive for perfection in such an imperfect world- then how do we ever learn to acknowledge and accept the blips and blemishes that exist in all of us?
    Maybe besides all the academic subjects and future goal settings that need to happen; we need to take time to look within ourselves, see our strengths, acknowlege our flaws and accept ourselves for who we are and be happy with ourselves. If we can achieve this state of self- realisation, then maybe… maybe, there might not be bullies and the bullied.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I saw this only now but do so appreciate the thinking and focus you have brought to this universal issue in schools and neighborhoods, anywhere in the world.
    Truly daunting are the following thoughts, arising out of…….
    *What sort of adults will/do such children grow into? At work, in their relationships with fellow-workers, with men or women partners? With their own children and in society at large.
    * Teachers are bullies too. while their weapons are different, they can hurt, scar, kill the spirit of some children who are their victims, through continuous ridicule, or neglect…academic or emotional, through openly or covertly targeted victimization and blame, condemnation of poor achievement in class, threats, discrimination etc.
    *Groups of children, notably among girls between13-16 can resort to bullying tactics through open ridicule, marginalization, social exclusion etc.
    In my experience, solutions lie in addressing individually the self-regard of such perpetrators of bullying, understanding causes and steering away from patented disciplinary procedures. Counseling rather than admonishing will go a longer way in ensuring a safer emotional climate in school, the staff room or the classroom.
    Nivedita, thank you so much for highlighting these issues!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ms. Benjamin for your thoughts. May I request you to take a look at the part 2 and 3 of the article as well whenever time permits. Your advice to me and to the readers of the blog would be invaluable.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Dear Ms. Niv,

    Nice article about the problems faced by children at school. I totally agree with one point you have mentioned under factors that create bullies out of the children – “Children who are very close to their peers over years and are constantly preoccupied towards making themselves popular in any which way they can.” – This bully especially happens in a very subtle way and the child who is getting bullied might not even realize that he/she has turned submissive to the situations.

    Nice to be connected with you Ms. Niv.


    Liked by 1 person

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