Sharjah, January 30, 2020
Members of Sharjah Children Parliament (SCP), aged 8-11, discussed the impact of bullying on children’s health at the 3rd session of the parliament’s 16th cycle, held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of Rubu’ Qarn Foundation for Creating Leaders and Innovators (Rubu’ Qarn), at the Emirates National School – Sharjah campus.
The discussion, held on Wednesday (January 29), was organised under the 16th cycle’s theme ‘Leadership Through Community Service’.The third session, titled ‘Let us unite as friends against bullying’,discussed the role of institutions and organisations to curb bullying incidents, and highlighted the importance of raising awareness of children on the impact of bullying.
With 60 members of SCP in attendance, the session hosted Alia Al Shamisi, Control Expert at Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA); Hind Al Badwawi, Psychological Counsellor at the Judicial Department – Abu Dhabi; and Hanadi Saleh Al Yafei, Director of Sharjah Child Safety Department (CSD).
Salama Saif Al Tunaiji, President of the 16th SCP, moderated the session with the assistance of Saif Obaid Al Suwaidi, First Vice President; Shaikha Salem Al Naqbi, Second Vice President; and Reem Khamis Al Mazrouei, Secretary.
Young parliamentarians suggest peer-focused solutions to curb child bullying
The young parliament members suggested the idea of having a mobile caravan in residential areas to raise greater awareness of bullying amongst the community. They also recommended the holding of a nation-wide competition titled ‘Let us unite as friends against bullying’, and the need for the creation of an anti-bullying mascot to take the idea forward to a larger audience.
The young parliamentarians also believed that an electronic device that enables children to register their names and those who bully them would go a long way in bringing unreported cases to light. They highly recommended the idea of a children-led anti-bullying campaign in Sharjah schools, which could later be expanded to encompass all schools across the country.
Modelling good behaviour at home can have a major impact on reducingchild bullying, say experts
Addressing the Parliament, Alia Al Shamisi said bullying is a social menace that manifests in various ways and takes many forms including verbal and social bullying, cyberbullying and physical bullying. She pointed out the severity of the latter as it may lead to physical harm.
She stressed on the need for parents and teachers to recognise the signs of bullying early on, and the need for intervention programmes in all educational institutions to act on complaints received from parents, teachers or directly from the students.
SPEA has, over the years, initiated several anti-bullying awareness programmes targeting the entire school community and introduced regulations aimed at protecting children in schools, Al Shamisi said. It also monitors reports of bullying filed by schools and engages the assistance of experts for counselling the victims of bullying, if the need may arise, she added.
Hanadi Saleh Al Yafei said: “To ensure that children can learn in a safe and fear-free environment, the Child Safety Department has been engaged in raising awareness about the concept of bullying and identifiedthe actions to be taken when confronted with bullying, either in schools or in the community. By organising workshops on various topics related to the subject, CSD is helping advance the capabilities of children with necessary skills and strategies to build their self-esteem and empower themselves to respond appropriately to bullying instances.”
To achieve these objectives, CSD is collaborating with several relevant entities to reach across to the entire educational sector and take its anti-bullying message to a much larger audience, she added.
Highlighting the critical role of parents, Hind Al Badwawi pointed out that improving parent–childcommunication and parental involvement with their children could have a substantial impact on reducing child bullying. Developing a child’s ethical and social responsibilities, and modelling good behaviour at home can stem aggressive or bullying tendencies in children, she added.
Bullying could lead to psychological trauma, depression, reclusion, and even suicide in some extreme cases, said Al Badawi, calling for all stakeholders in the school and social community to play a proactive role in tiding the menace of bullying. She also highlighted the need for children to equip themselves with strategies to deal with bullying incidents and to create greater awareness in reporting incidents of bullying, whether they are victims or a witness.
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