If you have never been bullied, then you were probably once a bully. A bully is anyone who uses power or strength to intimidate those who are weaker. Bullying is one of the most serious societal menaces as it has many consequences; discouraging children from attending classes, become introverts, and considered one of the contributing factors responsible for growing suicidal thoughts among teens.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly a third of all students aged 12 – 18 reported having been bullied at school in 2007, some almost daily.
Anti-muslim bullying is no different from bullying except that, it is directed specifically towards muslims and it is in line with growing cases of islam attributed terrorist attacks.
According to a report, in late March 2011, a Muslim third-grader was found hanging unconscious in his school in Louisville, KY. It was not the first time Muhammad had been bullied and abused.
The same week a Muslim girl from Dreyfus School in New York was beaten up; thrown on the ground, had her headscarf pulled off, as she was repeatedly called a “terrorist,” “Muslim”.
While the assault on muslims by bullies grow un-noticed, below are a few ideas muslim parents and adolescents alike can adopt to avert the dangers associated with anti-muslim bullying.
- Recognize the signs that your child is being bullied
Usually bullies tend to select their victims carefully, and often times they go for kids with low self esteem. Most of the children who are victims of bullying do not discuss it with their parents. In line with this, parent need to be more observant as there are always signs your child is being bullied. Some of these signs includes; cuts, bruises, torn cloths, damaged belongings and frequent complains of stomach and headaches aches. Also with frequent night mares and refusal to go to school.
- Get as much information as possible to confirm that your child is being bullied
This means that parents should also be very careful as not to confuse these signs to kids who are too playful, feeling sick or kids suffering from Attention deficit hypersensitivity reactions. As such, parents who suspect their children of being bullied should try and get necessary information from their teachers, before taking appropriate action.
- If the problem is bullying, talk to your child in private
Depending on your child, find the best time to talk to him, usually when you feel your child is most responsive.
- Contact the school and work out a solution with the teacher and/or the principal
This is the next best step to take, as it is key to putting an end to your child being bullied. Meet with the child’s teacher and school principal about the issue and offer possible solutions, like organizing anti bullying programs. Unfortunately, most schools in the West do have this programs within the school systems.
- Comfort your child
The key objective here should be: helping your child build his self esteem which has been damaged by incessant abuse. Make constant dua that Allah guides not only your child, but also other children who happen to be in a similar circumstance and to guide the bully so that they can desist from such actions. Also share with them inspirational stories of the companions that were bullied through mockery and insults and how they defeated their bullies with bravery, patience and trust in Allah.
- Help them see joy in being muslims
It is quite easy to tell a Muslim. Usually, from our names, dressing and personality which exposes us to anti muslim assaults. But as muslim parents it is our duty to make our children be proud of their religion and its teachings. Being a muslim is an ultimate opportunity from the Creator himself and never an excuse to be mistreated. it is every muslims responsibility to help build an environment where muslims build strength and identity.
- Offer to do a presentation about some aspect of Islam to your child’s class
Doing this, in islam is called da’awa (enlightenment) and an excellent way to to present basic Islamic facts to your child’s classmates, classmates’ parents and teachers. This could also help address the phobia attached to islam.
- Become more involved in your child’s classroom and school life in general
Parents who are very conscious about their children activity will always notice the slightest of change in their children. It is part of parenting for parents to remind their children about their after class assignments, help them with school projects, participate in school’s parent-teacher organization, trying to attend your child’s sporting events as well as other extracurricular activities.
- Get involved in local anti-bullying efforts
It is mandatory for muslims to enjoin good and forbid evil. If the bullying menace doesn’t seem to get the attention of the larger society, it is expected of we muslims to make effort at stopping it. Also, doing this will benefit countless students and if your child school doesn’t have an anti bullying policy, it is wise to approach the school administration about it.