A recent study undertaken showed that 42% of students from 9th to 12th grade in Indian schools experience bullying. Bullying can have long-lasting effects on children from having low self esteem to suicidal tendencies. And therefore, it makes it a serious problem, not just in India, but across the world, which is on rise.
A lot has been researched and written about the importance of having safe and positive classroom learning environment where students can take risks, be comfortable about their identity, make mistakes and learn from them. It is essential for a learner, especially during childhood, to be in a space where they are given respect and emotional support to explore their potential and be prepared for the world. Classrooms are essential spaces for developing resilience for the same. Physical and emotional safety are non-negotiables in a healthy classroom.
There are multiple things that can make a classroom unsafe – ranging from student action to teacher action to the furniture arrangement in the classroom. The good news is, though – it can be worked with! And it starts from the people who participate in the classroom space – especially the teacher and the students. And student voice in this context becomes very important.
So, what is it that we, as educators and learners, can do to tackle this problem of bullying and create safe spaces for our students to learn?
The students at ALF have been learning about the importance of safe classrooms. They have been actively working towards creating a safe community in ALF to ensure that everyone learns in an environment where they can make mistakes, take risks and help each other learn. To ensure that not just here, but other students also benefit from safe classrooms, six of our students identified the need to have an intervention in their schools to tackle the issue of bullying as a part of their leadership projects.
The students started with setting their purpose for their projects which was to create safe classrooms by ending bullying and spreading awareness about the effects of bullying.
Their next step was to build their knowledge about the topic. For this, they did online research and conduct a survey in their respective classrooms in their schools to identify:
- What bullying is,
- How many students are being bullied and how often it is happening to them,
- What are the causes for bullying,
- How many students bully and what they feel about it,
- What steps the students can take to tackle it, and
- What the school authorities are doing about it.
The survey done by Faiza, Iqra and Faizah in their school showed the following results:
After gathering the results, three of our students took a session in their class to support their classmates to understand what bullying is, how it affects them and what it is that they can do to end it. They took interviews and feedback after taking the session, and they received positive responses from their classmates. They noticed that many students started apologizing for their behaviour when they realized that they were bullying others.
Below is the video where Divya, Damini and Sejal share their thoughts about their project:
Bullying can become a serious threat to emotional and mental development of students. Therefore, it is our collective responsibility to take actions immediately to start conversations around it with our peers and students so that everyone learns in a safe space which they all deserve.