No matter who we are, how we look, what we do, what we believe in – we all have rights. Equal rights. We are all born equal, but somewhere along the line – we forget to live in equality. So, where do we begin? What do we tell our children? Why do we expect only adults to know about human rights? Isn’t it our duty to sensitize our future generation also?
These letters are an attempt by a mother to convey her thoughts around this. Do read and let us know how would you go about teaching kids that they are ‘Born Equal’?
This post is being written in association with Amnesty International India’s Human Rights Education programme.
Dear boys and girls,
“Pulling down someone will never help you reach the top.” – Anonymous
Have you heard this line before? Do you understand what this refers to?
Am sure you all have many friends. Friends of all kinds. A smart friend, talkative friend, quiet friend, dancer friend, the studious one, the most popular one and so many other kinds. Which one are you?
Do you remember when a friend or a few friends together made fun of you when you did something differently? Oh wait! Were you thinking that you were doing it incorrectly? No dear, you weren’t. I am guessing you just did it your way. On the other hand, can you think of a time when you made fun of someone?
So, do you think it is OK to make fun of others? How much is OK? How much is not? When does this whole ‘making fun of each other’ turn into something more?
Remember, we all are different. Each one of us is gifted differently – in size, capability, hopes, ambition and so much more. The other day my daughter came to me and told me that her basketball classmates laughed at her as she hadn’t made even one basket in the past two months. I told her to take it in her stride and to keep trying until one fine day when she will be able to aim for the basket and her ball will pass through it. I could feel her discomfort at the thought of going back there for her class; my heart went out to her – but I sent her back.
Could you tell me, what would you do if you were in her basketball class? Do you know that uncomfortable feeling when you are made fun of? Bullying is worse.
So, what is bullying? It’s an unwanted and aggressive behaviour among children. It emerges from the need to show power over others, the kind that makes you say, “Oh! You cannot do that? But I can.” “I am taller than you are, you better do this for me.” And so much more. And sometimes, it happens repeatedly. It sort of becomes a habit. And remember, respect, dignity, inclusion and non-discrimination are the pillars of human rights values. When you bully someone, it violates each of these. And bullying is a complete violation of human rights.
Which actions are considered bullying when repeated over a period of time?
4. Inappropriate comments on how one looks
5. Gender-based comments like ‘You are weak because you are a
girl”, “You are crying, so you are a girl”, “You have short hair, you
look like a boy!”
7. Physical harming
9. Emotional taunting (making rude hand gestures, faces)
So, let’s try and ensure that we don’t get involved in any of the above-mentioned acts because most often we tend to cross a line. That thin line between friendly teasing and bullying.
In any case of bullying, there are four people involved:
1. The bully
2. The bullied
3. The witness
4. The bystander
So, imagine if you are being bullied; you are the bullied party, what do you do?
1. Talk to someone you trust.
2. Report bullying to a trusted authority.
3. Try and ignore the bullies.
4. Always try and have friends with you.
5. Try and tell yourself that the bully is the one who needs help because you are strong.
6. Do not get afraid on seeing the bully. Try and keep calm.
What do you do when you see someone being bullied, when you witness bullying?
1. Call out for the bullied and strike a conversation like everything is normal.
2. If the person is frightened or upset, help him or her feel better.
3. Report bullying to an adult.
Lastly, what if you are the bully?
1.Try and talk to an adult about what you tend to do.
2. Try and think what makes you do it.
3. Try and not hang out with friends who encourage your bullying habits.
4. Try and see things from other people’s perspectives
More often than not, no one tends to think of the bully. And I think we should; we are your friends too, bully. But we need to sort this out. Because bullying is simply wrong! Let’s talk and help you with your feelings; the ones that push you to bully others.
Neither do you want to be the bully nor the bullied. Both seem uncomfortable roles. One makes you feel you have more, while the other makes you feel like you are weird. But trust me, we are all weird! We all have our own quirky habits, funny ways of doing things, strengths and fears. That’s why I say, we are all born different, equally different.
So, let’s not tolerate bullies and bullying. The more you fear, the stronger the bully gets. Bully grows in the face of fear, so smile and stay calm.
Remember, friendship is so beautiful because we are all so different. Imagine if we were all the same! So, let’s celebrate our differences, and not discriminate them.
Say no to bullying. Let’s deal with bullying together.
Rashmi Balakrishnan says: I am a four year old mother. Been around for 3-plus decades. Learning new lessons and unlearning a few old ones. I try and find happiness in small things. I dream. I laugh. I cry. I hear. And I try and do. Life is all about love, laughter and light for me.