Every day thousands of students wake up afraid to go to school. Bullying is a problem that affects millions of students, and it has everyone worried, not just the children on its receiving end. Yet, since parents, teachers, and other adults don’t always see it, they may not understand how extreme bullying can get, writes Dr. Juliet Dinkha.

Being a bully means acting in a way that bothers people around you. Bullies either have hostile intent, embracing power over someone else, or hurting others by any means they could find. Children who are bullied might experience stress, depression, feeling sad and lonely, might affect their sleeping and eating patterns, health problems, and might lead to a drop in their grades, in addition to skipping or missing school.

This is a problem not limited to certain cultures or types of schools, it’s worldwide but why is it a problem for our children in Kuwait? Given that many schools are international ones, students come from different backgrounds, races, ethnicities, and nationalities. They also speak many different languages, and many international children appear different from those of the mainstream culture kids and thus stand out by the way they look, their accents, and overall behavior. 

Someone who is a bully could likely or more often to be a child who learns at home that physical punishment is acceptable, and thus more likely to bully. In many cases as well, the bully lacks self-confidence and uses bullying to feel better about him or herself. They display poor social skills and poor social judgment, and sometimes have no feelings of empathy or care towards other people.

What could we do when children are being bullied:

1. Do not ignore the behavior, expecting children to sort it out on their own is not a solution, an adult has to intervene. 

2. Do not be too quick to punish because quick and harsh punishment may make teachers and students alike ignore the bullying. 

3. Do not put the child on the spot, don’t question the children involved in front of others.

4. Do not encourage fighting back, this teaches the bullied child to revert to physical violence and sends out the message that violence is a solution. 

5. Do not try to mediate between the children involved, remember there is no equality in power here, asking them both to apologize doesn’t work. 

6. Do not blame a child who is being bullied, he/she may already feel guilty. By being a good role model, children learn that kindness, empathy, tolerance, and respect are the only ways to treat each other.