Sri Lanka is one of the countries that is facing the bullying issue, which is affecting their whole community starting from the children and ending with the adults, whether in schools or in the workplace. Bullying comes in its different shapes and ways, it doesn’t differ whether it’s a male of a female; both can be bullies and can be bullied. In Sri Lanka, bullying took its place more through the technological era, which is referred to as cyber bullying that mostly goes among the ages of 13 and 18. Discover more on Bullying in Sri Lanka.
Cyber bullying in Sri Lanka
People think that cyber bullying in Sri Lanka is at a very low rate, but the truth is not. Cyber bullying in Sri Lanka is taking its way up and increasing on the social media websites especially face book and that’s why many Sri Lankan youth are subjected to be affected by the appearance of social media and be subjected to cyber bullying. But with the emergence of technology and the increasing usage of the social media, still the Sri Lankan government did not research the cyber bullying since it was not stated under the Sri Lankan criminal law, so reports did not collect any data about cyber bullying.
According to a survey of complaints received by the authority’s Cyber Watch, the law enforcement manager of the authority says that most of the victims that come out from cyber bullying incidents are girls who their ages are between 13 and 18 years old.
What makes cyber bullying in Sri Lanka different is that it takes another road which is not like other countries where people usually do acts of bullying because of appearances or gender, but in Sri Lanka it happens to be that youth bully each other due to more sexual reasons like the boys bullying the girls as some kind of revenge for ending their relationships. This kind of bullying usually comes when a boy posts or shares a nude picture of his ex-girlfriend on the social media network, or worse when they use editing tools to make pornographic pictures look like the girls they are bullying. Boys can use some kind of written bullying like commenting on the bodies of the girls and referring to them with derogatory terms as “sluts”, they even insult the girl’s family, ethnicity and religion.
The problem with cyber bullying is that it is a kind of using the technological era to send out messages as a tool to harm another person, and this act does not require a specific time, it can go through the whole 24 hours of the day, which make it more difficult to avoid as the verbal or the physical types of bullying. Cyber bullying is a tool that is usually used by teenagers, because they take it as a kind of showing their power over others with the benefits of not being identified, so they will always be anonymous for the person they are bullying which will make the percentage of them being caught very low.
According to Dr Chamara Wijesinghe, a lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Kelaniya and a practicing psychiatrist at the Colombo North Teaching Hospital in Ragama, cyber bullying is more difficult to be forgotten by the victim like the verbal or the physical bullying, because once it is written down it can’t be taken back easily, it will be on paper, e-mail, Face book and everywhere and that’s what make the cyber bullying more dangerous.
Cyber bullying can come in different forms, such as:
- Instant messaging, that is sent to people in order to threaten them.
- Stealing other people’s passwords which always leads to access to any information the victim didn’t want to share in the first place, in addition to having access to the victim’s photos.
- Asking questions by using some social network websites such as ask fm, in which the bully asks whatever questions because he always appears as an anonymous person to the victim.
- Spreading rumors about the victim on the internet.
Cyber bullying if not tackled and prevented in Sri Lanka it might lead to a suicidal turn, and if not it will lead to other effects, such as:
- The victim being always tensed and distressed.
- Withdrawal from the daily social activity day after the other until the victim reaches a point where they don’t feel comfortable within the social life at all.
- They might not be able to control their emotions of anger.
- The victims will avoid any gatherings.
- Over time, bullying can lead to the victim losing his/her own self esteem, and facing depression.
Cyber bullying story in Sri Lanka
Venusha Bandara, the 15 year old girl who committed suicide at her home after she was reprimanded by her school principal over a picture that was posted on Facebook of her with one of her male classmates. Venusha’s mother says that the principal was informed about the picture through an anonymous note that he received. Her mother also mentioned that Venusha committed suicide and hanged herself because she felt ashamed and she didn’t want to bring her father more shame than she already did, or that what she thought in the note that she left on the day of the incident. The National Child Protection Authority which is responsible to protect children from any acts of abuse is investigating the incident with the school’s principal and they said that the picture of Venusha only showed her with her male classmate at a school trip walking down a small narrow street and smiling straight at the camera.
Since cyber bullying in Sri Lanka is affecting a wide range of people there, some groups started targeting people to take care of what bullying is and to stop these acts, because their community should be free from them, they started talking to the Sri Lankan community through internet, through this technological devices that they use in the making of such harmful acts, one group created a face book page that asks people to stop bullying in Sri Lanka, they tried reaching the community through one of the things that is now considered a major problem to deliver harmful acts.
Bullying in Sri Lankan schools
Although the problem of bullying is widespread throughout most of the countries, but not all of them have laws that prohibit the acts of bullying in schools except five countries, Sri Lanka being one of them standing next to Korea, Norway, the UK and the US. It was also found that boys are more likely to be both the victims and the perpetrators, and they usually use physical intimidation and violence, while girls does not always take part in the bullying acts, but when this happens they usually depend on the verbal and the social bullying.
Children who usually tend to be bullies or to be bullied are usually those who might be suffering some violence on the personal and family level. Children always find different types of reasons to bully others, like sexuality or ethnicity for example, and they usually tend to bully those children who seem to be less powerful than them, they go to those who can’t defend themselves like the disabled children because they usually appear to be the youngest and the weakest.
Bullying usually appears when there is lack of supervision from the school’s teachers and whoever is responsible and this usually happens in the overcrowded schools. Bullying in schools might take different forms, it might be physical like tripping, hitting or spitting on the victim or it might be verbal which not only comes in the form of insulting the person being bullied but it might come in the form of gossiping about the person. In order to prevent any act of bullying in schools, parents and teachers should play a big role in the process; they should teach their children to make friends not enemies and to engage themselves in the social life and its activities.
The symptoms that can appear and can be identified easily on the child being bullied are:
- A drop in the school grades.
- The child coming home from school with torn clothes, which says that he was engaged in a physical type of bullying.
- It might also be in the need for money and asking for it on a regular basis.
Bullying in Sri Lanka is considered as some kind of child abuse, which can be carried by one or more adolescent and can occur occasionally, not only that but it appears in almost all the schools, and statistics shows that 31% of the students at school have been bullied at some point of their lives. Studies also found that boys have a stronger percentage to be bullies and to be bullied, but that doesn’t mean that girls can’t be bullies, but studies showed the opposite, that girls fit in the “five main groups of people involved in bullying” which are:
- Dominating bullies
- Anxious bullies
- Bully victims
- Classical victims
- Provocative victims
The main problem with not dealing with the core of the bullying acts is that it differs in each school, and usually students take the behavior with them outside schools and back home, statistics even show that a young bully has one in four chance in having a criminal record before they reach the age 30. Tackling the bullying problems in the Sri Lankan schools lately, some researches were done and showed that students who do bullying acts usually consider themselves more powerful, and 15% of them are usually involved in these acts, and this goes to different reasons that are not always the same and might be difficult to know them all, but the most apparent one goes back to the family and personality characteristics of the bullies themselves, the thing that was discovered through the survey is that some of them just do such acts out of boredom.
Bullying in schools “focus on bullying”
To fight the huge appearance of the bullying acts that appeared in some schools the time the school was built; the governments in Sri Lanka started implementing new programs. One of these programs is “focus on bullying”, which is a prevention program for elementary school communities, which in order to work out and be successful it should include the administrators, staff, students, parents, and community members who must support its implementation.
Workplace bullying in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka does have different cases of workplace bullying, such as cases of having to work overtime on a daily basis without being paid for those extra hours, or being on the phone 24/7 with the boss, it might also include working in the weekends or in vacations with little money or without being paid at all, other people might be enrolled to work in a company without signing a contract which make their boss use this against them at any time whether by getting rid of them or by not giving them the salaries on the exact time. All these are kind of bullying other than the ones that involve verbal or physical bullying, in fact it was agreed that any kind that might cause the a person to feel powerless, shameful, or to cause any harm to him/her is considered an act of abuse which is also considered bullying.
One of the stories that might be considered a type of bullying in the work place is the case of the senior Sri Lankan cricket players like Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara, when they were having private conversations with the cricket officials and exchanging some e-mails with them which they thought would stay between them, but then turned out to be media stories, and was published in the newspapers attracting a wide range of people and fans.
Although Sri Lanka is having a large percentage of bullying through its internet usage, school or in workplaces, the government is still not paying much attention to the researches done or the statistics that should be known in order to prevent bullying in the country. The country should take steps forward because not everyone in Sri Lanka knows the huge problem that they are in.