Bullying: Show them the way

Parents were shocked and outraged at the tragedy that befell the 11-year old Loujain Hussain, who is now in a medically-induced coma after being attacked by four younger boys at her school.

By Olivia Olarte- Ulherr And Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Sat 28 Apr 2012, 9:35 PM

Last updated: Thu 8 Sep 2022, 10:00 AM

If something happened to my kids, I don't know what I would do," said French national Sekou Djerah.

The father of three was appalled that this type of incident happened at a school in the UAE and was equally horrified of the boys ganging up on girls. "During my younger days, there were gangs in our school but never did one gang touch a girl student. This has never happened before that boys beat a girl," he remarked.

"Irrespective of the causes of the squabble amongst the children, the fact that four boys ganged up against a small girl is reprehensible and cowardice," expressed another parent, K.T.

Djerah blamed the lack of security measures put in place by Al Maali International Private School, where the violent attack took place during a recess; as well as, the apparent absence of discipline by parents of the "junior hooligans".

According to Loujain's friends and classmates, the incident on Thursday was not the first time that the fourth grade boys tried to intimidate students, calling them bad names and pushing around younger kids. "They come as a group, if one fights, everyone else comes," a friend who requested anonymity said.

Deana Wurster, a mother of two from Germany, said bullying should be stamped out. She cited a mechanism applied by a school where her kids previously attended. "The school gives three warnings to the bully, green as first warning, yellow for repeating the offence, then red which means he or she will be expelled from the school," she explained. Word of mouth about the kid's expulsion within the community would also deter other schools from taking the student in, Wurster added.

The Mussafah school principal told students during assembly last Sunday that the boys involved in the attack will only finish the current school term and would not be admitted next academic year. But according to some parents, expulsion is not a solution. "Throwing them out of school, so that these rich children can join some other school, is not a punishment, but an escape route for the guilty," stated K.T.

Withholding items from them, such as their electronic gadgets is also not a solution, said Djerah who proposed the public humiliation of community service. "The punishment would be to shame them in front of their classmates, like cleaning the area in uniform," he said.

"Public humiliation hurts more than verbal or physical punishment," agreed K.T., who suggested the more drastic measure of posting the bullies' photographs. Djerah also recommended that police should carry out a campaign, going to schools and advising students of the consequence of bullying.

"You have to shock them. Show them videos on why they can't do this, just like why kids have to wear seat belt. At a young age, they have a good memory," he pointed out. "Being like this now, they might turn out to be criminals in future," Djerah warned.

"Parents are also to be blamed sometimes for not having time for them. No time to instill the basic values and allowing them to play games that give them score for killing people," Imran Kazmi, a father of three from Pakistan said. He related an incident in a coffee shop in Dubai where he witnessed a boy from a nearby school bullying a girl and threatening to spill milk and water over her. Another classmate was urging him to kick the girl. "She looked extremely scared and helpless, and I sat in a frozen state, I don't know what to do." A cleaner eventually called security and the boys ran away. "I left, but inside my car I thought the same thing could happen to my daughter tomorrow or to someone else, so I went back. I saw the girl and asked, but out of fear she tried to make light of the situation that ‘it was nothing he was only joking'. I think she was scared, I think out of peer pressure she didn't want to say anything negative and that maybe they will get reprimanded," he opined.

Djerah said schools should not allow boys to group and form gangs. "They are in the school to learn, not to fight," he pointed out.

Meanwhile, school principals in other emirates said that they were saddened by the turn of events. CEO of Indian High School Ashok Kumar said: "The only way to avoid such incidents is to encourage a lot more parental involvement. It's a big challenge for both the parents as well as the school. Value education must be made compulsory and parents must monitor children's activities online and keep a check on the kind of video games they play."

David Ipe, Supervisor of Counseling and Career Services at the Indian High School, said that placing children in a school that has a culturally homogenous environment is more beneficial. "Inculcating a common value system to children in schools that play host to children from many nationalities is difficult," said Ipe.

"See, such cases are accidents, not incidents. Schools must have policies to control such evils. Holding awareness programmes for teachers, parents and children also helps. Sufficient sports activities are also a must," added Ipe.

Fact Box

Thursday last week, four Grade 4 boys attacked Loujain Hussain, a Grade 7 student, hitting her in the head and stomach.

According to witnesses, the attack was unprovoked. A boy pushed Loujain and she bumped a boy. A row ensued.

Loujain blacked out and started vomiting.

At 3pm on the same day, Loujain was rushed to the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City where a scan showed a brain haemorrhage.

On Sunday, Loujain underwent a six-hour surgery to remove the blood clot.

Mahran Hussain described his sister's injury as similar to that sustained during an accident or of "someone thrown from the top of a building". He added that a bottle was used to hit his sister's head.

Loujain is now in a medically-induced coma.

Hussain Abdulla has filed a complaint against the school on Thursday at the Mussafah Police Station. Investigation is currently underway.

The Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) is awaiting the report from the police and the hospital.

Senior officials from the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) headed by Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Adec Director-General, visited Loujain Hussain at the hospital. Doctors assured the Adec officials that Loujain's condition is stable.

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