The recent incident of bullying at a private school in Lahore shows that the problem lies in the formation of ‘cliques’ — where a certain group among us, belonging to a certain class and/ or set of values, starts to assert their perceived superiority
ecently, a video showing a bunch of girls assaulting a school fellow took the media by storm. They are seen pulling the poor girl’s hair, slapping her and forcing her to the ground till she is rendered completely powerless. The incident highlighted the ignominious ‘practice’ of bullying in schools that a ‘privileged’ lot of students resort to and the weaker ones have to face and which sometimes leaves them emotionally scarred for life.
Coming back to the recent incident, just what was the reason behind the girls assaulting another girl their age and from their own school? As I see it, that’s simply a show — rather, abuse — of power. When a host of students gang up, they become a terrorising force. In this case, reportedly, this group of students (including the one who videoed it all with the pleasure of a spectator) were trying to force the poor girl to join them in having ‘fun’. Perhaps, they saw the girl who had rejected their ‘offer’ as Miss-Goody-Two-Shoes or a prude and that provoked them.
As I see it, the problem lies in the formation of cliques — where a group among us, belonging to a certain class and/ or set of values, starts asserting its perceived superiority. It can take any form of aggression, especially if the group encounters opposition of sorts — from harassment to verbal abuse and physical assault; and, in this age of internet, cyber bullying. In the case of the school incident, it translated into physical violence.
The act cannot be undone, but it is the responsibility of every student and parent in Pakistan to raise their voices against the incident and create an example so that no one can dare bully anyone in the future — on or off campus.
Psychologists say that an act of bullying is often a manifestation of disturbed mental health. Eventually, bullying becomes a channel for the perpetrator to transfer their deep rooted frustration. In other cases, it’s a way to seek attention. Whatever the case, the worrying fact remains that bullying in schools is common. Until and unless we come across a video (like the one in question), we don’t probably have an idea how it can be emotionally (if not physically) traumatic for the victim who is often a meek and lonesome person.
It’s time the school managements took serious notice of such incidents, without waiting for some to surface through secretly captured video clips on social media. Because, by then, it’s too late even for them (schools) to save their reputation. After the incident, the Scarsdale International School administration issued a statement condemning it. It also said, “Our school culture is our highest priority and we uphold our core values of honour, respect, compassion and responsibility.” To many, this seemed to be a futile attempt at face-saving. It didn’t help much that the school suspended the bullies. Later, the victim’s father reported to the police and the bullying students were granted pre-arrest bail.
The one empowering factor here is that the social media community has come out, seeking justice for the victim. The hashtag #justiceforParasShah has been trending on Twitter. The act cannot be undone, but it is the responsibility of every student and parent in Pakistan to raise their voice so that no one should dare bully anyone in the future — on or off campus.
The writer is a student of law, politics and economics. Her areas of interest include advocacy for women’s rights, European history and culinary arts