Chennai

Tackling bullying through democracy

“I used to be a bully when I was younger,” Thomas Koshy, a class XI student, confesses.



“It seemed normal and fun at the time, but now I realise it was wrong,” he says.



Bullying is a serious problem in most schools. It affects a large number of children and causes mental and psychological distress.



Schools have been grappling with the issue for several years. Even as the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) issues guidelines to schools, a group called Schools of Equality is helping children understand and deal with bullying.



“In our group sessions, we discussed bullying, whether it is physical, verbal or emotional, and that was when I realised I was one of the people bullying others,” he says.



Through the programme, students of Sishya, Adyar, have now come up with a ‘school constitution’, which includes the right to be protected from bullying.



The team at Schools of Equality works with students to help them come to terms with different issues, whether it is their own identity or gender equality. The students are also taught to recognise their rights and the responsibilities that come with it, according to Pavithra Kabir of Schools of Equality.



Meanwhile, CBSE has developed guidelines to deal with bullying. Students caught bullying can receive oral or written warnings or suspension, levied fines, and their results can be withheld. In case the offense is severe, expulsion or rustication, as well as a transfer to another school are suggested.



Schools have also been asked to constitute an anti-bullying committee comprising the vice-principal, teachers, school doctor, counsellor, peer educator and legal representative.



Schools of Equality, on the other hand, takes a different approach. “We encourage students to speak up and discover themselves. Once they deal with identity, we introduce concepts of equality. We are trying to break the stereotypes, and encourage them to build healthy relationships based on mutual respect,” says Gulika Reddy, founder of the organisation.



This year, the Schools of Equality team worked only with students of class XI and XII, but they are now planning to introduce the awareness programme for lower classes too.





Schools have been grappling with the issue for several years. CBSE has now issued guidelines to schools

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Printable version | Nov 23, 2020 2:18:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/tackling-bullying-through-democracy/article7107192.ece

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