“Bullying” or “Ragging” is a constantly emerging issue in the education sector of Bangladesh which is concurrently taking prominence at our university campuses. The act of bullying is a form of systematic violence comprising of different nefarious acts including intimidation, threat and coercion all of which are done to innocent students which are often perpetrated by the former’s fellow classmates or through other individual students studying in higher class. According to UNICEF, around 35 per cent of students in Bangladesh are directly or indirectly being bullied in their respective educational institutions on a regular basis.
Recently on February 12 , 2023 two female students of Islamic University, Kushtia (IU) were alleged to brutally torture one fresher student for staying in the dorm without the latter seeking their prior permission. Similarly on October 7, 2019 a 25 year old second year young EEE student of BUET named Abrar Fahad was victimized and mercilessly beaten and murdered by some students for the commission of which the perpetrators were rightfully arraigned. These alarming incidents suggested that the situation of bullying is worsening in our education sector which is becoming uncontrollable in our tertiary educations. So adoption of stringent policy framework to combat in-campus bullying in Bangladesh is now a timely need.
Developed nations have already taken effective and timely measures to suppress student ragging by adopting intuitive policies and laws. In USA The Academic Senate Committee on Environmental Quality of Life and Disability Issues on 2014 framed an ideal anti-bullying policy which prohibits, reprimands and prescribes reporting procedures by informally lodging individual complaints to impartial “College Ombudsman” or formally lodging it to designated office concerning to the parties involved. Furthermore it proposed numerous actions including probing individual allegations of bullying through ‘civility committee” and enforcing disciplinary actions against the culprit student.
In UK the bullying at school are strongly mitigated by UK Government through strict legal enforcements where some form of violence are directly reportable to the UK Police for instance threats, abusive phone calls, assault. Furthermore hotline is always active in case of immediate dangers associated with bullying. Moreover the UK Government by the promulgation of anti-discriminatory laws e.g the “Equality Act 2010” has made compulsory for the educational institutions of England, Wales and Scotland to comply with the said law to mitigate all forms of student victimization, harassment and discrimination. Finally there are behavior policies present in UK public schools that aims at preventing all forms of bullying among pupils.
Bangladesh’s stance towards prohibiting the bullying practice in education sectors were emphasized after the staggering incident at IU and BUET. A bench in High Court Division (HCD) has opined about framing anti-bullying guidelines for educational institutions. Soon after the judicial opinion the Ministry of Education was prompt to submit a draft guideline on anti-bullying in all levels of educational institutions. HCD further said that psychologists should be involved to provide mental health support to the victims of bullying.
So to summarize bullying must be dissuaded in campus because the negative entailment of this act are unfathomable. A fact sheet by Centers for Diseases Control (CDC), USA in 2015 found that bullying in academic life can have severe social, emotional and physical injury among young students which can often lead to the former’s ultimate demise. Students are future nation builders, the government must do everything to ensure their mental and physical well-being at campus. Thus the concerning authorities in Bangladesh should implement intuitive mechanisms and guidelines that would stop all forms of violence against students once and for all.
Samiur Rahman is LL.B. (Hons) , LL.M. , Jagannath University and Lecturer, Millennium University, Department of Law