Updated: Aug 5, 2020
By- Ananya Singh, Law student at NLU Jodhpur
A country’s strength lies in having healthy, protected and well-developed children and Indian land is home to almost 19% of the world’s children population. But a prominent yet overlooked issue among children is being ignored by law makers here.
From being pushed on playing grounds or hearing comments on one’s physical appearance, a child faces many such events in his early age. Generally, we tend to ignore such instances but then we forget the detrimental effects, in short or long term, they have on a child and how they hamper his personality development.
‘Bullying’ means when a superior living entity exercises influence or force of any kind over the other to dominate and make him do things which he would not have otherwise done. It could be by using physical force, making verbal derogatory comments, stalking or through electronic devices like computers-social media etc. A bully repeats his unwanted actions over time and bullied feels difficult to defend him/herself. There exists a real or perceived power imbalance and it creates serious problems for the bullied.
A UNESCO report, published recently, highlighted that school violence and bullying is a major global issue. The data revealed that one out of every third student in the world is being bullied at his school at least once in a month and the proportion is same for other forms of violence like physical (common among male students), psychological (common among female students) and sexual violence. The reasons for bullying vary from one’s belonging to a particular race or nationality to having different physical appearances or colour. The outcomes of such negative actions are that children miss schools, experience depression, anxiety, loneliness, their quality of life deteriorates etc.
With the developing era, the modes of bullying have been changing- from doing it within the victim’s physical presence to using internet through text messages, e-mails, hacking the victim’s account or threats of child pornography and the bully conveniently hides behind the garb of a fake identity. In a survey conducted by Assocham Social Development Foundation in 2015, it was revealed that 95% of teenagers between 13-17 years of age have Youtube accounts, 81% have access to social networking sites and 51% have a smartphone. The fact that minors lack the experience and judgement making ability at such a tender age, they easily get exposed to cyber bullying and online sexual abuse.
Shri RK Raghavan Committee, formed by the Supreme Court of India in 2006, in its report described ragging as an act of human rights abuse and suggested means and methods of prevention of ragging at senior secondary and college level. It suggested for increasing awareness, need for strong ragging laws, setting up of toll-helpline and counselling sessions in colleges, confidentiality and secrecy of complainant’s identity etc. but very few of them have been implemented in reality.
In India, UGC has stringent anti-ragging laws in higher educational institutions but the same is missing for school and societal level even when these areas have equal number of reported cases. Apart from guidelines given by CBSE in 2015 and a decision on formation of a high-powered panel taken recently to give suggestions to deal with the rearing problem of bullying and ragging at school level, nothing concrete has been done so far.
Moreover, in India, there is no specific anti-bullying law yet certain provisions of IPC,1860- wrongful restraint, confinement, causing voluntary hurt, grievous injury etc., Information Technology Act,2000 provides punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material and POCSO Act,2012 try to fill the lacuna in law indirectly but they do not apply on minor offenders and Juvenile Justice(Care and Protection of Children)Act,2000 though applies but covers only few serious offences of bullying. Hence, instead of scattered law, the need of the hour is a uniform, single and strong anti-bullying law.
To term it as ‘school violence’ is correct only to a certain extent as it is a universal menace that a child can face anywhere even within the four walls inside his home. Therefore, the solution lies at three levels- home, school and society. At homes, parents should maintain a conducive environment for children to share such problems and children should be made aware-how to deal with such situations. In schools, the classroom environment should be safe, protective and positive for children, teachers and staff should be considerate and benevolent and presence of effective monitoring and grievance redressal system so that a bullied child can fearlessly raise his concern. Moreover, bystanders or people who witness incidents of bullying should inform requisite authorities to constrain such actions to grow in our society.
Children are ‘human resource’ for a country and their welfare and protection should be given utmost priority. Thus, the social violence of bullying must end.
 Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, Annual Report 2015-2016, available at https://wcd.nic.in/sites/default/files/annual-report-2015-16.pdf, last seen on 15/11/2019. Definition of bullying, International Bureau of Education-UNESCO, available at: http://www.ibe.unesco.org/en/geqaf/annexes/technical-notes/definition-bullying, last seen on 16/11/2019. UNESCO 2019, Behind the numbers: ending school violence and bullying, available at: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000366483, last seen on 13/11/2019; School violence and bullying a major global issue, new UNESCO publication finds, UNESCO News, available at:https://en.unesco.org/news/school-violence-and-bullying-major-global-issue-new-unesco-publication-finds,last seen on 16/11/2019. Youtube used by 76 percent minors under age of 13: ASSOCHAM, Business Standard, available at: https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/youtube-used-by-76-percent-minors-under-age-of-13-assocham-115122200206_1.html, last seen on 17/11/19.  University of Kerela v. Councils of Principals of Colleges, Special Leave Petition No. 24295 of 2006 (Supreme Court, 05/12/2006)  Report of the Committee constituted by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India In SLP No. 24295 of 2006, The menace of ragging in educational institutions and measures to curb it, available at: http://dos.iitd.ac.in/anti-ragging/menace.pdf, last seen on 16/11/2019. See https://pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=120009.  Central Board of Secondary Education, Guidelines for prevention of bullying and ragging in schools, Reg: (D.O. No. 12-19/2012-RMSA-I), available at: http://cbseacademic.nic.in/web_material/Circulars/2015/17_Prevention%20of%20Bullying%20&%20Ragging%20in%20Schools.pdf, last seen on 17/11/2019.  Amandeep Shukla, UGC plans panel to shape anti-bullying policy, Hindustan Times (29/08/2019), available at: https://sol.du.ac.in/library/enewsportal/get1.php?id=2408, last seen on 14/11/2019.  Supra 3.
(Disclaimer- The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Child Rights Centre.)