The Impact of Bullying

Oct, 18 2021

A 21-year old walks into my cabin and sits in front of me. We start talking and I conclude that she has confidence issues. She is constantly doubting her decisions, is unable to speak up, fears taking a stand for self, and is scared like she is on constant vigilance. On further assessment and a detailed conversation, I find out that she has a perfectly happy family, is doing really well in her career and has a good group of friends to support her. Then what was keeping her so low and held-back?

The answer lies in the title. She was bullied as a child in her school, by her classmates. She was bullied for her skin tone and her body. This led to stammering which further increased the bullying. Her description of how she was bullied is a very typical picture where she would be alone in a corner, and there would be a gang of students making noises at her, teasing her 'saavli si ek ladki', 'moti, moti'. She had no response to this and would keep sitting on the swing in the corner of the school playground.

Using such sentences to show prowess in areas of physical strength, academics and appearances is a very common occurring.

It is very difficult for people to understand that such sentences are traumatic. They remain etched in the minds of children and their effects may last for a lifetime. They affect not only their academic life, but also have a huge impact on their social, personal and familial lives. Inability to take decisions for yourself is one of the most debilitating conditions one can ever face !

They hide behind the tag of being 'introverts', but many are underconfident and self-conscious. Imagine feeling conscious about your clothes, food, speech, walk, expressions and behavior all the time! And the issue is that few would actually realize the problem and get help. The rest would continue to live with their problems.

Bullying in colleges has led to some very extreme consequences after which it has become a punishable crime and most colleges have very strict policies against it.

Today with the advent of social media, the word 'bullying' has been replaced by 'trolling'. Social media has become a platform where people are very open about their opinions and judgements. They do not shy away from passing comments or sending lewd and vulgar messages in response to things that they do not approve of! They get the courage to do this since they can hide behind walls of anonymity.

So how do we help them?

We can start by identifying them.

As adults too, a lot of us have the habit of ignoring those who are quiet introverts. We assume that they are either disinterested or too full of themselves to talk! Very few of us make an effort to involve them, make sure they feel comfortable. Everyone wants to be around people who are talkative and entertaining.

Instead, make an effort to involve that one person who is feeling lonely in a crowd, and is still smiling when the others laugh. Make sure they connect! Encourage them to give their inputs. They always have opinions, but are just scared of judgement! A little motivation in the form of claps, smiles, laughs and attention goes a long way!

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