Don’t take bullying lying down

Bullying exists in many forms — physical, verbal or psychological. It can range from a child being beaten up by peers in the school to being scarred emotionally by words.

By Lubna Al Midfa

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Published: Tue 16 Nov 2010, 10:36 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:08 AM

A child’s psyche can also be damaged through condescending remarks, aggressive tone of voice and taunting facial expressions.

Consequently, bullying has an inevitable influence on the quality of one’s learning at school.

Sana Abdul Atheem, adviser in the field of psychology in the Ministry of Education in Dubai, says the ministry recognises bullying in schools and is trying to tackle the malaise. “Some children don’t have enough knowledge and capability to understand and deal with the behaviour of bullies… Most importantly, they might not know the difference between how they should react or not in order to deal with bullies. As a result, we have educational specialists who create awareness among teachers and parents on how to detect if a child has been bullied. We offer educational specialists, psychologists and student counsellors whose main aim is to educate students to be more aware, which allows them to feel accepted.”

Currently, there is a social worker in every government school, as well as a number of psychologists working across the education sector. Sana Abdul Atheem adds that the Ministry of Education’s plan is to strategically provide academic guidance to counsellors in all schools in the near future.

At the Human Relations Institute (HRI) in Knowledge Village, Dubai, a campaign has been designed to create more awareness about the different kinds of bullying and people’s false perceptions on the subject. Dr Samineh Shaheem, Assistant Professor of Psychology and cross-cultural consultant, has designed a programme, ‘Bolt Down On Bullying’. Bolt stands for ‘Be a friend, Offer support, Learn to respond, Tell someone’. She is also collaborating with Jessica Swann on Dubai Eye 103.8FM. For the month of November, on Psyched Sundays (10am-12pm), the radio programme will be devoted to the anti-bullying campaigns, where they will have parents, teachers, therapists as well as other guests on the show.

The campaign hopes to help children and parents recognise the signs that someone has been subjected to bullying, what causes bullying to occur as well as offering a support system.

Schools participating will have access to recent research and material on the topic and students will have a chance to take part in designing the official ‘Anti-Bullying Poster’ in the design competition. Counseling services will be provided for children and parents at HRI; seminars can be organised for students and teachers at schools should they wish.

Bullying also occurs at work, and affects productivity. The reasons behind such behavior are complex, but some of the possible reasons include a lack of empathy, or a need to feel superior or to gain an advantage out of a situation.

Learning to know when someone has crossed the boundaries of acceptable behaviour is the first step in recognising bullying behavior. According to Dr Samineh, people should ask the following questions: Are the comments unreasonable and unpredictable? Does the bully strike at the most unpredictable times, even after a successful meeting? Is the criticism about the mistake or the person? Is it designed to make the person aware of his/her error and to get it right in future, or just to humiliate the person? If the answers are yes, then that’s bullying.

Different forms of bullying range from kicking, spitting, malicious teasing, taunting, making threats to spreading rumours, engaging in social exclusion, extortion and intimidation. Generalisations cannot be made to understand why bullying occurs; but it should be recognised in all its forms and not tolerated. School visits will be arranged, and there will be seminars at the HRI during the first week of December, for which you can register at

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