Miss Hafsa Saeed Khan is an AS student studying literature, law and sociology at Nixor College. She is passionate about countering bullying and the mental health stigma in Pakistan.
- Do you think bullying is prevalent in Pakistan?
Pakistan reportedly takes 22nd place out of a total of 25 countries studied on the rate of bullying. Unfortunately, very less attention is given to this matter in Pakistan, especially in educational institutions. With the increasing decline of parental interference in schools, bullying in educational institutions in Pakistan has increased significantly in the last five years.
Cyberbullying has seen an upswing due to developments and more availability of technology. Social bullying is also on the rise, as an individual’s reputation can easily be jeopardized with the use of specific pictures or even rumors made.
- What age group is more likely to get bullied?
According to a report published by the Pew Research Centre, young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are more likely to be the targets of online bullying, and by that extension, we can also infer that the same age bracket experiences greater offline bullying.
- Why do you think bullying takes place?
I believe that the root cause of bullying is the neglect given by all authoritative figures, such as teachers, parents or even bosses. It is their responsibility to condone bullying wherever they see it. It is also their job to spread the word and stop bullying in their respective areas. Unfortunately, especially in our country, this matter is not given that much attention even though it is an extremely serious matter.
Another cause of bullying is also circumstances an individual might face at home or personally. These frustrations that are stuck in one’s mind might lead them to bully as a means of a coping mechanism. Lastly, there is also an issue of not spreading proper awareness in educational institutions.
Yes, we do tend to see posters on walls, but does any action take place? The action only takes place once there is a complaint filed against the bully. The institution should keep a close eye on every child that is suspected of being a bully or a victim. Unfortunately, Pakistan is quite behind in these matters.
- In your opinion, can someone change the nature of bullies?
Certain circumstances can lead them to change their attitude towards life. However, authoritative figures such as teachers or parents can play a huge part in shaping a bully’s mindset. Only proper counselling and restrictions can change the nature of a bully. The phrase “once a bully, always a bully” is quite common, but I believe that once proper guidance is given, the nature of a bully can definitely change.
- What are the long-term effects of bullying on a person?
It is also a well-known fact that one of the major reasons for suicide is being a victim of bullying. Long-term effects can be depression which includes extreme levels of self-doubt and loss of confidence. In my personal experience, I had deeply fallen into depression and constant anxiety about what I may be bullied about next. What would be the new aspect about me that I was going to be picked on about?
I had lost quite a lot of weight since I was body-shamed as well. It took me about 2 years to recover from the trauma that I had been through. However, it is different for everyone, but a victim must seek help as soon as possible because mental and physical health can get much worse.
- Is there any formal platform in Pakistan where victims of bullying can get help?
Digital Rights Foundation’s Cyber Harassment Helpline is Pakistan’s first dedicated, toll-free helpline for victims of online harassment and violence. The helpline provides legal advice, digital security support, psychological counselling and a referral system to victims of online harassment.
A great trait about this platform is that they provide a judgement-free and private environment. Victims should also try to seek help from a legal guardian, a parent, a teacher or even a friend.