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Presentation by Mrs. Tina Olyai Director LAHS Gwalior
Presentation By Mrs. Tina Olyai Director LAHS Gwalior India
“Child is the father of the man”, when the celebrated poet had envisioned this oft-quoted philosophy, he never knew that in the coming century the “CHILD” will really behave so MANLY that he will pierce the bosom of his own friend with sharp bullets. As the world is set on its way to an unprecedented evolution, children enshrine the saplings of an optimistic tomorrow. Alas! However, the ‘growth’ and ‘evolution’ of the child has taken a lop-sided tendency.
Knowledge is growing. The forerunner of the Baha’i Faith had predicted two centuries ago.. Today’s chldren know far more than what the most learned saints and scholars of yesterday could even imagine to know; and as seers of yesterday betokened, the entire universe is as small and cognizable to today’s generation as a lemon on the palm. By a simple keystroke on the computer, today’s child can get to his disposal the most occult knowledge of this vast cosmos. Life-style has improved. Now children are not unfortunate like children of the past to die of epidemics. Health has improved & life-span has augmented. Everything is there but somewhere ‘morality’ is missing.
The only angel that can relieve mankind is spirituality. As it is happening in Japan, and as many recent events in the USA and India and other parts of the world caught our attention, the ‘suicidal’ and ‘homicidal’ tendencies, eve-teasing, muscle practices and other abominable traits of childhood will be rampant. An early intervention is needed ... NOW! We read enough sciences and learnt many arts. While they are good, they will lead to nowhere without the steering wheel of character education. Our children are missing something. Let’s find and replete the emptiness in them or lets be ready to be accountable before God for missing a great task He imposed upon us. The choice is ours!
A recent study conducted by the National Institute Of Child Health & Development in the West found that 41 of every 100 students in grades six through 10 said they were bullied at school. Bullying is one of the main concerns and can often lead to more intense forms of school violence.
School Violence. Bullying
Definitions of bullying include verbal, emotional or physical. All this type of bullying imposes a grave psychological impact, negative and often abiding, on the child.
This is worth noting that the bases of most of these bullying are in the “training” a child receives at home and school. For example, in Asian countries “gender discrimination” and in western countries often “racial discriminations” become the basis of several cases of school violence and bullying.
That is why a sound “spiritual education” takes its precedence
Gender and racial discriminations need to be completely wiped out from the minds of children. These discriminations are based on prejudices. Prejudices like those that a girl child is inferior to her male counterpart, prejudices that certain races are inferior and the others are superior. This sort of prejudice is forbidden in all religions.
Baha’u’llah, the Founder Prophet of Bahai Faith, has said: “O Children of Men! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other.” (Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah).
A child aware of the precepts of Lord Krishna will know that “This Universe is like a womb in which God has planted many seeds. Whosoever sees the same God manifesting in all, is the true knower”. (Geeta, Chapter XIV: 2).
And the Holy Quran says: “All the Believers in God are but a single Brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your brothers; and fear God, that ye may receive Mercy.” (Al Huzurat : 49).
Lord Buddha preached the same kindness for all: “Let none deceive another, or despise any being in any state. Let none through anger or illwill wish harm upon another. Even as a mother protects with her life her child, so with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings” (Metta Sutta) and Christ, the Saviour invoked mankind for the same: “…..by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word : love thy neighbour as thyself”. (Galatians, 5:13-14).
Thus, we see that all religions outline the importance of universal love & brotherhood and if this aspect is taught well in schools, nobody will be violent, hateful and distorted.
What dwells into the mind of the bull..
There were 280 school-associated violent deaths in the United States between July 1, 1999 and June 30, 2004, 5% of students ages 12–18 reported being victims of nonfatal crimes, 28 % reported being victims of bullying, and 10% reported being victims of violent incidents." In a 1999 national survey of high school students; 11% of male students) said they carried a weapon to school 8% of students said they had been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property ;24% said that they had been involved in a physical fight on school property; and 8% said they were scared to go to school because they felt unsafe at school or when traveling to or from school.
Research shows that students feel increasingly unsafe commuting to school and back.. A recent Children's International Poll of Adolescents revealed that 47 percent of all teens believed their schools were becoming more violent, 10 percent feared being shot or hurt by classmates and bullies at school.
In 2001–05, 70% of all public schools experienced one or more serious violent crimes such as rape, sexual assault, bullying leading ton school violence. The National Center for Education Statistics, a part of the Institute of Education Sciences of the United States Department of Education, said that perpetrators directed 1.3 million non-fatal crimes, including 473,000 violent crimes . Crime and violence at schools are increasing at a threatening rate and they indicate serious lacunae in our family, school and community lives.
Love is the Panacea
Like all other imbalances of human life, lack of sane and profound love is the root cause of classroom bullying. According to a study in “The Science Teacher”, 2004, children who are bullied at school show signs of depression and anti- social behavior. Those who were involved in school shootings also displayed depression and anti-social behavior. Bill Dedman has rightly said that “When you see aggressive or angry behavior of a child, always look for the pain behind it……...”
School and Family are two basic units where the child receives and thus knows the value of love, tolerance, respect for each other and other such human traits. Unfortunately, the onslaught of materialism and modern life-styles have disoriented families from an ambience of “living together” in love and harmony. Parents are too busy to take care of the emotional needs of the children.
Materialism has spread darkness in the world. In every corner of the earth there is strife, discord and warfare of some kind. Mankind is submerged in the sea of materialism and occupied with the affairs of this world. They have no thought beyond earthly possessions and manifest no desire save the passions of this fleeting, mortal existence. Their utmost purpose is the attainment of material livelihood, physical comforts and worldly enjoyments such as constitute the happiness of the animal world rather than the world of man.
In such an atmosphere, school has to assume a challenging two-fold role: the first to foster an ambience of love and fellowship at the school itself, and secondly, to bridge the gap between the two generations by convening appropriate get-togethers, seminars and motivational programmes for parents encouraging them to ‘socialize’ themselves in the lives of their children. The role of the teacher also has to be re-defined not just as an “ imposer of material learning” but as a “motivator of souls”.
Nothing better than these soul-stirring words can spur them to this new role…….. “God has chosen you for the purpose of investigating reality and promulgating international peace; God has chosen you for the progress and development of humanity, for spreading and proclaiming true education, for the expression of love toward your fellow creatures and the removal of prejudice; God has chosen you to blend together human hearts and give light to the human world. The doors of His generosity are wide open to us; but we must be attentive, alert and mindful, occupied with service to all mankind, appreciating the bestowals of God and ever conforming to His will.”
True education is not just teaching some branches of sciences and arts. We must remember that those who had blown the “Twin Towers” of America and attempted to explode the Indian parliament, or those who are fueling the fire of hatred in Kashmir, Chechenya or Gaza are all mostly well-educated people versed in modern technology. But the only thing lacking in them is love for mankind. Those who do not receive love during childhood from their families, cannot give love.
What we witnessed on September 11 2001.. One man’s brain malfunction augured hazards and threats for an undreamt catastrophe. A satanically devised but meticulously calculated and culpable mass homicide ….!! Just imagine, this most wanted terrorist of all times .. if only he had used his brain power towards mitigating problems of poverty, disease, famines, floods or planned for improvement in the field of education, irrigation, electricity, power production, etc….. What all achievements could have been done ?
Therefore it can be rightfully said that the root problem of Bullying &Violence are not on the surface but they lie deep in several factors, most of which need sociospiritual redressal measures. According to a study, the following factors contribute to violent behaviour in children.
Factors contributing to classroom bullying & school violence
Poverty, which lays a foundation of anger and discontent; Illegitimacy and the breakdown of families, which lead children to seek the stability and caring environments of gangs; Domestic violence and child abuse, which foster learning and behavior problems, frustration, and retaliation; Society-wide violence rates and juvenile violence rates, which spill over into the school; The drug culture and its violent distribution network, which encourage students to arm themselves;
Immigration, especially from countries where formal education is less valued. Population mobility, which creates an atmosphere of anonymity. Discrimination, which exacerbates the frustration and anger of minority students. Violent cultural imagery, from TV shows to sympathetic news coverage of militaristic foreign policy, which numbs children to the effects of violence. Materialism and advertising, which creates a culture where children are manipulated and feel exploited. Competitiveness and high parent expectations, which make children lose the identity and uniqueness of childhood before their time.
Meeting the Challenge
The problem of classroom bullying and school violence exists. The fact being so, we must strive enthusiastically to find a solution. Many argue that there is no real way to prevent bullying. Kids will be kids and we must accept it. Those who maintain this “inactive attitude” may learn from the following episode of Confucius, the great philosopher.
A friend of Confucius believed that children need to grow in the “natural way” without any parental or scholastic intervention. On the other hand, Confucius was an avid reformer. However, his arguments were not penetrating his friend. Time passed by and after a month Confucius invited his friend to a lunch at his home. The friend came and Confucius laid the dining table in his garden.
However, as soon as the friend entered the garden, he was shocked. All long and unsystematic grasses and weeds were growing here and there. Plants were not trimmed properly. No cleaning, no mowing, no trimming! Everything was just haphazard. The friend remarked: “You have no care for the garden?”
Confucius replied: “I have but I wanted that everything grows in the natural way. So I left them as they want to grow”. The friend understood everything.
The mind of the child is also like a fertile garden. If we take no care, do not prune or trim, do not train and counsel, then useless weeds and grasses of unsystematic thoughts prevail and the beauty and effectiveness of the garden goes. Meeting the challenge at school level is playing the role of a perfect gardener. Every child produces something thoughts, notions, imaginations. We have to guard, support, orient and nurture.
The first thing to be instilled in the hearts and minds of children is to convince them that every human being needs respect and freedom and violence and bullying is contrary to the principles of respect and freedom. Therefore, the children must take a proactive role in wiping out this bad practice. For example, often the students fall victim to the bystander effect, simply letting the bullying occur. But, it has been found that if students take an active resistance when they see a fellow classmate being bullied, the bully is less likely to act out in this way. By simply telling the bully that what they are doing is not right, a bully will often cease their actions because the cause of their bullying is many times a search for social acceptance. With these facts in mind, kids can help combat the problem of bullying.
Some aspects like “Students Tribunal” within the schools and “Hobby or Friendship Clubs” may work well. The Students Tribunal may be composed of elected senior students with some prerogatives such as sentencing “minor punishments” to the guilty child, such as preventing him from the school library for a week, or boycotting him from the sports for a short span of time, etc. On the other hand, “Hobby Clubs” within the school will help in cultivating “group understanding” and “friendliness” among students beyond academic hours.
Rinaldo writes, “Bullying is much less common in schools where kids take the time to make friends with students outside their regular social group.”
There are also groups like Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) that serve as mediators and helpers when bullying arises. It is natural to assume that where there is bullying, there is violence, and the members of SAVE are aware of this fact. SAVE attempt to take a group of individuals – who are often powerless against the pains of bullying – and turn them into a cohesive group. However, careful efforts need to be made to save such groups from ‘politicalization’ or it will be counter-productive.
In brief, handling school violence is much in the hands of the students and the teachers. The teachers need to listen and watch. They have to pick up on the clues that a child is being bullied. As for students, to embrace the victim is to tell the bully that what they are doing is unacceptable. The bully will stop if the bully knows that they are not getting the kind of attention they sought through bullying.
Universal Participation & Physical Security
Meeting the challenge of school violence is not the exclusive of the school itself. It is also a problem which needs participation of all: the community, the administrators, the teachers, the parents, and the students all together. According to the American NCES survey, 84% of public schools have inadequate security system. They have no guards or metal detectors or other essential security measures to hold back weapons out of the school campus. Only 2% have 'stringent security' which means they have a full-time guard and use metal detectors. One important security measure being adopted by many schools is issuing identity cards to be worn by students at all times. Although this won't stop students from causing violence, it could stop outsiders from easily appearing on campus.
Schools can also institute violence prevention programs and zero tolerance policies to prevent school violence. In addition to these basic security measures, schools must also have a systematic counseling unit functioning within the school. Obsessions with violent games, lack of anger management skills, violence towards animals are some of the early symptoms found in children before they become practically violent. A good teacher should watch for the above warnings signs. On the other hand, the students should also be encouraged to play their roles in several ways which include: refusal to succumb to negative peer pressure, especially when violence is involved, report any knowledge of weapons on campus, tell the teacher about suspicious behaviors of other students, etc.
Classroom bullying and school violence is a widespread scenario which affects almost all countries of the globe. But it can be prevented. The most acceptable fact is that the basic root of school violence is in lack of moral attitudes and respect for the other being. Prejudices of many sorts fuel its fire.
Gender discrimination and racial discrimination are the most rampant causes but religious and cultural intolerance are also accountable. In the wake of this scenario, the schools need to reassess their commitment to preventing and addressing bullying around racism, culture and religion and these should be clearly stated in the school prospectus. Racist or casteist bullying include reference not only to prejudice around colour and appearance but also to prejudice around religion and culture.
Each school should have a written code of practice which clearly outlines specific procedures to be followed for recording and dealing with racist and sexist bullying, as also with other kinds of abuse and bullying, on the school premises, and while coming to and going from school in the buses. This commitment to preventing and addressing racism and bullying should be clearly stated in posters and displays in corridors and classrooms.
In addition, the schools should also display prominently the Universal Declaration of Children’s Rights as envisioned by the UNO and the curriculum must be adopted which does not only accommodate the diversity of language, culture, religion and appearance but also incorporates a sound spiritual training.
DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
• 1 The child shall enjoy all the rights set forth in this Declaration. Every child, without any exception shall be entitled to these rights, without distinction or discrimination on account of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, whether of himself or of his family. 2 The child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity. 3 The child shall be entitled from his birth to a name and a nationality. 4 The child shall enjoy the benefits of social security. He shall be entitled to grow and develop in health; to this end, special care and protection shall be provided both to him and to his mother, including adequate pre-natal and postnatal care. 5 The child who is physically, mentally or socially handicapped shall be given the special treatment, education and care required by his particular condition. 6 The child, for the full and harmonious development of his personality, needs love and understanding. He shall, wherever possible, grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his parents, and, in any case, in an atmosphere of affection and of moral and material security; a child of tender years shall not, save in exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother. 7 The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages. He shall be given an education which will promote his general culture and enable him, on a basis of equal opportunity, to develop his abilities, his individual judgement. 8 The child shall in all circumstances be among the first to receive protection and relief. 9 The child shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation. He shall not be the subject of traffic, in any form.The child shall not be admitted to employment before an appropriate minimum age or education, or interfere with his physical, mental or moral development. 10 The child shall be protected from practices which may foster racial, religious and any other form of discrimination. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and
Last but not the least, all violence emanates from a feeling of lack of love and insecurity. Bullying is also a result of feeling powerless.
So the last check-point is: What is our school doing to ensure that our children and young people do not fee powerless in the school community , that all are loved and respected, value
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