School bullying leads to rising divorce rates, susceptibility to extremism among victims, warns Azhar Observatory

Ahram Online , El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Sunday 19 Feb 2023

The Al-Azhar Observatory for Combating Extremism (AOCE) has warned of the dangers of bullying at schools, noting that such behaviors could contribute to a range of future impacts, including increasing divorce rates and making victims more susceptible to extremism.

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In an article published on Sunday, the AOCE cited a UNICEF statistics suggesting that up to 70 percent of Egyptian children experience bullying by their schoolmates.

Recently, the observatory added, bullying has begun to spill over from school and has become a phenomenon in the society. "Video clips promoting bullying have become an integral part of Egyptians' lives in recent times," it noted.

As part of the future impacts of school bullying, children could face difficulty making friends later in life and have poor chances of success in daily life and with a partner, a matter that could lead to rising rates of divorce among victims, it explained.

The victims could also experience difficulty in educational attainment and academic life in general and face mental health issues in the future, especially as it causes symptoms like anxiety, depression, irrational thinking and low self-confidence.

In addition, bullying is one of the factors that motivate extremism and violence. "Bullying victims are more vulnerable to engage in extremist ideology and violent behavior as they believe that they are avenging themselves," the AOCE underscored.

In its recommendations, the observatory urged families to follow positive parenting methods and avoid violent punishment directed at children, monitor any content presented to the child and block any content that incites violence or promotes bullying behavior in the child.

It also called on the families to develop a culture of modifying negativity behaviors and limiting violent behavior among children.

The observatory appealed to educational institutions to help children develop a sense of creativity, promote a culture of tolerance, develop and strengthen moral virtues and adopt a clear policy to address school bullying.

The AOCE called for keeping a close eye over media and dramatic content presented to the public to make sure that they are free from any forms of bullying as well as increase sport activities that promote cooperation among children.

As per a UNICEF statistics, nearly 250 million children worldwide experience bullying annually.

Egypt has recently started to take steps to raise public awareness about the negative impact of bullying on children and society.

In 2018, Egypt's National Council for Childhood and Motherhood and the Ministry of Education launched the country's first national anti-bullying campaign, in cooperation with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to protect children from physical and psychological abuse.

In 2020, prison penalties against bullying were included into the country's penal code. The penalties include a prison term of no less than six months and/or a fine of EGP 10,000 to EGP 30,000. If the offence is committed by more than one person or if the offender is related to the victim, penalties can be increased to a minimum of one year in prison and/or a fine ranging from EGP 20,000 to EGP 100,000.

In October 2021, the Egyptian House of Representatives approved a legislative amendment that toughens penalties against bullying persons with disabilities, raising the maximum sentence to five years in prison.

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