YK Poudel

In Bhutan, regardless of age or sex, 34 percent of boarding students are bullied compared to 24 percent of day scholars, according to The Guidelines for Anti-Bullying Mechanisms in Educational Institutions (ABMEI) by The PEMA Center Secretariat.

According to the study, 27 percent of the students reported having been bullied, out of which 2.4 percent were bullied ten times or more.

The report states that bullying is harmful, intentional, entails a power imbalance, and has an element of repetition.

Bullying can be physical as well as verbal and has a detrimental bearing on children’s health, well-being and learning.

To help schools address the problem of bullying, a two-day virtual orientation for over 500 schools was held last week.

“The school principals and counsellors are now well aware of the need for better enforcement of discipline in school to ensure every student is safe. The guideline will help the teachers to reflect on the shortcomings in the school and frame policies that are student-friendly in consultation with the parents,” said a teacher.

One of the counsellors said that the guidelines would immediately be applied in all the educational institutions in Bhutan. “It will provide a strategic reference for the educational institutions to base their anti-bullying initiatives on.”

According to trainers, the orientation was aimed at providing schools with the knowledge and skills necessary to create a safe and supportive learning environment and to institute preventive mechanisms and restorative response services.

Over a thousand participants, including principals, counsellors and focal persons from 535 schools across the country attended the orientation programme.

The PEMA Center Secretariat in collaboration with Career Education and Counselling Division conducted the programme.

Ten school guidance counsellors were identified and trained as national trainers last month.