Dubai’s education regulatory authority has confirmed that anti-bullying measures form an integral part of the parents-school contract being introduced in all schools in the emirate from the 2015-16 academic year.
“The parents-school contract which will be introduced in all of Dubai private schools in 2015-2016 academic year has a zero-tolerance policy for bullying in all its forms,” said Amal Belhasa, Chief of Compliance and Resolutions Commission of Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).
“Instances of proven and intentional bullying may result in immediate suspension of the aggressor from the school,” he said.
As per the guidelines set by the KHDA, all incidents of bullying must be reported.
The official’s comments came after a survey of more than 1,000 Dubai students showed that nearly 40 per cent of the respondent students had been physically attacked by their peers.
Conducted by the International Journal of Preventive Medicine Research of the American Institute of Science, the study of 1,054 students highlighted that 85 per cent of the bullying occurred in school campuses.
The children complained of being boxed, slapped and kicked by their fellow students, with some claiming they were beaten more than three times in a month.
The authors of the study recommended strong anti-bullying policies for every school.
The study added that anti-violence program must focus beyond the violent child and the victim to include peers, school staff, parents and the community.
“The policy must ensure that parents and students using social media forums demonstrate respect for all members of the school community,” the study said.
KHDA’s Amal explains: “Bullying is the intentional and deliberate intimidation of another person through emotional, physical, psychological and/or cyber means”.
A Dubai teacher who did not wish to be named narrated their own experience.
“In my class, there’s a timid boy who gets bullied all the time. The bigger boys literally hang him by his collar and shake him up.
“He is made to all their worksheets, and I have been unable to set things right.”
The teacher confessed of not being able to help, because she was unsure of the right channel to adopt.
“Even children are equally confused. They don’t know how to go about it.
“Once I did bring up the topic with the child’s father, but the kid instantly refuted it by saying it’s nothing but ‘fun’. I was taken aback by the boy’s reaction, and decided not to get involved.”
The teacher believes that the nature of upbringing is at least in part responsible for the children’s aggressive behaviour.
“Most of them have been under the supervision of nannies, and probably adopt these actions to get attention from their teachers or their own parents.
“I strongly recommend that all schools adopt an anti-bullying policy, and children should be encouraged to speak up.”