BY Khadija Amahal
School is supposed to be a shared place where different students from different backgrounds come to exist and create a collaborative and peaceful learning atmosphere with the help of their teachers and instructors. Nevertheless, this beautiful picture of school does not exist all the times due to many factors including bullying. Bullying is defined as a behavior that can be recognized and understood clearly only by those who experience it. This behavior is not restricted to one category , but can be experienced by people from different social backgrounds, age category, and context. Bullying can take place at home, in the street, at school and even in the work place. It is quite often that some students try to impose their power on others by practicing any form of violence ,either verbal or physical, on those minority students who come from marginalized backgrounds, or whose’ beliefs differ from the popular group at school who is usually the one who practices bullying on other students.
Several factors motivate bullies to bully others. The very common reason is the desire to show their physical strength and courage to manipulate the feelings of others whenever the chance allows them to. The act of bullying provides those students with a sense of dominance and keeps them busy during time breaks or when they have no class.
Bullying research has expanded in the last few years due to the tragic events that happened as a result to bullying incidents. A major consequence of bullying is suicide. Imagine a young student who has just started their paths taking an end to their life because of someone’s continuous irresponsible verbal accusation or physical abuse. The consequences of bullying also include reducing one’s self confidence, poor academic performance as well as school dropouts. Anti-bullying policies have been developed in a number of countries around the world. However, little research has been conducted in the Arab world to tackle this issue.
Cultural or racial bullying is another form of bullying. This type occurs by targeting someone’s race or culture by another one who does not accept this diversity of beliefs and practices. Morocco as a country of cultural diversity where people from different nations and cultural backgrounds come to live can be one of the locations where this form of bullying is spread. Students are not aware of the damage they cause when they manipulate someone’s feelings by their expressions. For so many reasons, verbal bullying is not even considered as bullying, but rather another form of discussion and
having fun. This can be resulted to the accepted norms, which are transmitted from one generation to another.
One of the victims of school bullying in the Moroccan context is Meryem. Meryem H, a 15-year old student in Casablanca, committed suicide after she was bullied by her peers at school. Meryem is not the first girl to be bullied at school nor will she be the last. Her deep pain made her surrender to depression and take her own life. This young lady was psychologically devastated due to the repetitive bullying and the intensity of verbal abuse she was undergoing on daily basis for no other reason than her social class. Poverty and social vulnerability were her only curse.
Meryem and other victims of bullying should ring a bell for countries to decide on urgent solutions to prevent this poison from spreading. Schools must be a space for children to learn, interact and build their personalities. That’s why school should also be the ground for change. By implementing programs that allow children to learn positive values such as respect and mutual understanding, kids grow up with a rich consciousness regarding their duties towards other peers.