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BULLYING IS STILL RIFE IN TRICHY SCHOOLS

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Trichy: The issue of bullying has plagued many schools in Trichy as there are reports of bullying causing students to take drastic measures to make the pain end. Earlier this year in February, a 15-year-old boy near Lalgudi in Trichy district took his own life because of excessive bullying. In his purported suicide note, which was found later, he had mentioned that four of his schoolmates teased him for his manner of walking and described his behaviour as feminine.

Despite the anti-bullying legislation nationwide, the prevalence of bullying is still one of the most pressing issues in the schools as in some of the incidents of late, the victims had refused to attend schools, according to mental health experts. But still, there hasn’t been enough awareness about bullying in several schools, as much as ragging is addressed by means of committees and campaigns in colleges.

According to psychologist Randeep Rajkumar, at least eight to nine students are taken to him in a month by their parents for refusing to go to school. In almost all of the cases, bullying by their classmates was the reason. “I had a Class VIII student, who was constantly being teased by his classmates for being obese. As a result, he developed a major phobia and didn’t attend school for three months,” he said. He said that the boy finally started attending school after subsequent sessions of therapy, including ego strengthening.

Students, who are obese/ lean or have peculiar physical features, and those who are less social are mainly targeted by bullies. Apart from aversion towards school, a few victims were said to have suffered from anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance and showed a decline in academic performances.

Experts said that the main reason for bullying to prevail in schools across the city was parents’ ignorance of the ill-effects of it. “When you talk about ragging in colleges, people immediately associate it with the mental agony the victim goes through. But most parents aren’t even aware of the term ‘bullying’,” psychosocial counsellor Dr G Aravindan said.

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Bullying is said to be prevalent more in government schools, and it is more prevalent among boys than girls. Counseling helps, but experts urged parents to regularly talk to their children about the happenings at their school in a friendly manner.

It has been said that while the victims of bullying are taken to mental health experts, the ones who indulge in the practice of bullying aren’t given the attention that is necessary. Experts mentioned that it would only be possible if schools started forming ‘anti-bullying committee’ so that those who involved in teasing fellow students could be identified. “When it comes to bullies, they behave that way mostly due to issues in their families – so they’ve equal problems to be addressed,” Aravindan said. He also said that out of the 70 school and college students he usually provides counselling in a month for behavioural changes, victims of bullying formed a considerable chunk.

While several schools in the city don’t have any ‘anti-bullying committee’, a few who claimed to have one also were inactive. Trichy district chief educational officer M Ramakrishan said that many bullying cases don’t come out in public often and most of the schools didn’t have any committee to deal with bullying. “Almost all of the schools though have disciplinary committees. Students could go and talk to them if needed,” he said.

District collector K Rajamani said measures should be taken to reduce bullying and other harassments. “Such incidents have started to increase probably only after students began getting access to electronic devices and started adopting western culture,” he said.

Meanwhile a parent from K K Nagar, who has two of her daughters studying in Class IV and Class VII in a private school, said, “My daughters used to tell me stories that a certain boy in their class would always be picked on by four or five boys and get teased. But I’ve not heard of any awareness created about bullying in the school.”

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