Bullying in Schools: Strategies for Prevention

Bullying is an undesired under-reported activity in schools. It is a problem that might begin at an early age. It has a negative impact on students. So how should parents and educators deal with this growing menace?

What is School Bullying?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, bullying is the behaviour of a person who hurts or frightens someone smaller or less powerful, often forcing that person to do something they do not want to do.[1] It can happen in verbal form (teasing, calling funny names), physically (hitting or punching), cyber form (negative messages via text or e-mail). In schools usually a group that considers itself as the ‘in’ group gangs up to hurt the others.[2] The bully always has supporters. Bullying behaviour tends to get repeated over time. Boys often bully others by physical means whereas girls by social rejection. In schools, the bullies target their weaker peers to make fun of their academic performance, looks etc. Disabled students are made special targets.[3]

Effects of School Bullying

Bullying can affect both sides- those who are bullied and those who bully. It can negatively impact mental health and might often lead to suicide. Children who are often bullied experience decrease in their academic achievements, increased feeling of loneliness and sadness, health problems and loss of sleep. Rarely, some children take the extreme step of ending their life. Those who bully others are more likely to engage in early sexual activities and they might consume alcohol and other drugs. [4]

The bullies tend to feel they are in power when they do this activity. Children are learning things from what they see. If a child is abused or treated disrespectfully at home, that child tends to imitate this behaviour at school. Sometimes it can be in another way. If parents themselves abuse or say harsh words to each other, the child learns to use the same to another. Children need constant love and attention from their parents. If they do not get the same, they may feel lonely and this feeling may turn into anger which then makes them bullies.

School Bullying in India

Every year, in our country a significant number of children are being bullied and ragged. Let’s consider some examples. A Bengaluru boy who was studying in class IX jumped to his death from the 10th floor of his apartment. He was bullied by his schoolmate according to his suicide note.[5] In India, students from various backgrounds interact with each other.A survey was conducted about the Global Youth by Microsoft which proved that about 53% of children have been bullied in different ways. [6]

Anti-Bullying Day

In 2012, the United Nations declared May 4 officially as Anti-Bullying Day.[7] There are some countries which celebrate it on the 28th of February. The idea to form an anti-bullying day emerged in Canada when David Shepherd and Travis Price distributed 50 pink shirts after a boy who was studying in ninth grade was bullied for wearing a pink shirt during the first day of school.  Now the whole world stands against bullying by wearing a pink, blue or purple shirt. [8]

Anti-Bullying Laws in India

Government of India has come up with an Anti-Bullying Law so that the problem can be nipped in the bud. Both parents and victims should be aware of these laws.

HRD ministry has launched anti-ragging committees in schools to punish students. But this is applicable only in the rarest of the rare case.

CBSE School Bullying Protection Law[9]

Anti-Bullying CommitteesThis committee consists of academic and mental health experts who adopt various measures to stop school bullying. Vice-principal, a senior teacher, counsellor, parent-teacher representative, school management representative and the legal representative are members of this committee. The various measures include warnings, suspension and in extreme cases expulsion of the bullies. This was set up by The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in 2015. Roles and responsibilities of this committee include-a. Creating awareness through various programs.

b. Review the School Bullying Prevention Plan

c. Being vigilant and respond quickly to various threats.

Counsellors– A guideline is also issued which states that counsellors should be engaged in schools where there are a lot of complaints from students of bullying. It is issued to provide emotional support to the victims of bullying to help them overcome it. Various suggestions arose like including mental health experts who can easily deal with issues of depression and mental distress a bullied child goes through.The victims of bullying should be able to trust these counsellors enough to share their experience. They might have a fear of physical or mental harm so they might not open up about their experience and hide whatever they have gone through. This problem should be tackled with a sense of trust.

Parent-Teacher Meetings- Another guideline suggests that there should be an increase in PTA meetings to understand a child’s situation and make parents help their children to cope up with bullying. This would also help parents understand get an insight into the motivations a child has when he engages in bullying acts. Such meetings can help the parents and teachers form successful link and problem of bullying can be tackled easily.

Other guidelines

  1. If a child is engaged in bullying, a written warning will be handed out to him and after enquiry, he or she can be suspended from the institution.
  2. Every school to have a notice board on which various penalties for bullying will be listed out.

In schools, the primary measure should be taken by the teachers. The teacher should warn the bullies about the consequences they will face and should encourage the bullied to stand up for themselves. The bystanders should stop being mere spectators and should start being part of the solution for the problem.

Conclusion                                                                                 

Bullying shows no mercy. Even though guidelines exist, instances of bullying continue to take place. This is because punishment is not severe enough. Parents are not aware of existing laws, or because of the mindset of the authorities. So it is high time that parents should be made aware of these regulations so that it will benefit their child when he or she shows any signs of either being bullied or having a tendency to bully. Bullying is one of the major issues that affect the lives of students. Children have the right to learn in a safe and secure environment. Teachers and parents must ensure this to them. There are a lot more to be done to curb cases of school bullying in India. Society at large need to put in more efforts to eradicate this evil which has affected our education system for decades.[10]

To conclude, the author quotes the words of Barack Obama

“Each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our version of happiness. No one deserves to be bullied.”


[1] ‘Bullying’ (Cambridge Dictionary) <https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/bullying>

[2] “One in every three children is a victim of school bullying. Is yours?” (theIndusparent) <https://www.theindusparent.com/school-bullying-india>

[3] Shankargoenka “Anti-Bullying Laws in India: What Parents should know” (Wowfactors.net) <https://wowfactors.net/anti-bullying-laws-in-india-what-parents-should-know/>

[4] “Effects of bullying” (Stopbullying.gov) <https://www.stopbullying.gov/bullying/effects>

[5] Aishwarya Dhami “20 Horrific Cases of Bullying in India That Show it’s a Big Problem that nobody wants to talk about” (Scoopwhoop.com, Mar 28 2019) <https://www.scoopwhoop.com/news/horrific-cases-of-bullying-in-india/>

[6] Ayushipandit “Anti-Bullying Laws in India” (LegoDesk, January 17 2020) <https://legodesk.com/blog/knowledge-base/anti-bullying-laws-in-india/>

[7] Ishita Sengupta,’Anti-Bullying Day: Being bullied can scar you for life, but there are ways to tackle it’ Indian Express (New Delhi, 4 May 2017)

[8] “What is Pink Shirt Day?” (CBC Kids) <https://www.cbc.ca/kidscbc2/the-feed/what-is-pink-shirt-day#:~:text=This%20year%2C%20Pink%20Shirt%20Day,%22lift%20each%20other%20up.%22>

[9] Diva Rai “Anti-Bullying Laws in India” (Ipleaders, July 10 2019) <https://blog.ipleaders.in/bullying/>

[10] ibid

Samyukta P Menon from National University of Advanced Legal Studies, Kochi

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