The government initiated the process of distributing some 347 million textbooks to around 41.7 million students up to the secondary level from pre-primary level across Bangladesh on Saturday, the first day of the new year. Like 2021, the authorities did not hold a textbook festival this year either owing to concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic.

The photos were taken by Dhaka Tribune’s Mehedi Hasan at Kamrunnesa Government Girls High School in Dhaka

<strong>Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune</strong>

BIGSTOCK

By Saykat Biswas

December 3, 2021 12:06 AM

According to Unesco, bullying affects 23 out of every 100 Bangladeshi school children. Bullying is not just an issue in Bangladesh; it is one of the most deviant behaviours among children and teenagers worldwide. Despite various interventions and anti-bullying measures, Unesco reports that bullying is still one of the most pervasive issues at schools.

While bullying has a disproportionate impact on pupils, evidence suggests that girls and students with disabilities are more vulnerable. According to recent research, women aged 18 to 22 account for 80% of all cyberbullying in Bangladesh. Another study indicates that students with learning and developmental disabilities are more likely to be cyberbullied.

Bullying not only has a mental and physical impact on the victims — it has been found that bullying can create a sense of exclusion, and the likelihood of dropping out of school rises. Because of these circumstances, schools should take this matter into account.

Considering the complexity and severity of the situation, the government has recently formulated a draft policy titled “Bullying Resistance Counseling Policy” with the goal of combating the abusive culture of schools, by examining current legislation and proposing provisions for permanent and temporary suspension of those implicated.

Education Minister, Dipu Moni, said that the government is trying hard to create a repression-free learning space, where students will be able to learn without having the fear of being bullied. The High Court further commented that both teachers and students require professional counseling in order to promote a safe and joyful learning environment.

To effectively deal with this issue, we must pay great attention to the problem, take essential measures to deter bullying, and provide adequate care for the victims. Since girls and learners with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to cyberbullying, we need to create a system that is both inclusive and context-specific. This would necessitate more compassion and responsibility on the part of teachers and other stakeholders.

Family members should also keep in touch with the schools for two reasons: To be informed about what is going on with their children at school, and to be prepared to give teachers any information they require quickly.

Regardless of socio-economic status and despite undertaking preventive measures, no society is yet completely immune to bullying. Hence, a growing awareness of this issue is needed among the stakeholders.

Apart from school-based initiatives to tackle bullying, we should also work on encouraging children so that they are able to communicate effectively, seek help, settle conflicts, and most importantly, be sensitive to their peers in order to establish a healthy and safe learning place in which they can learn and grow.

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