Time has come to put an end to the apathy surrounding the harmful practice of bullying.
Fez- “Nothing would render you a great person except a great pain..Not every falling is scoffed at, and the rain has to fall if the flower is to grow.” These were the last words of a young girl who committed suicide early this week after she was a victim of bullying.
Meryem Hacik, a 15-year old student in Casablanca, committed suicide, after she was bullied by her peers at school. Meryem is not the first girl to be bullied at school nor will it be the last. But her deep pain made her surrender to depression and take her own life.
Bullying in Morocco is so rampant that it has become a part of Moroccans’ daily routine. Ingrained in social, cultural practice, bullying takes many dimensions that can be relatively harsh depending on social class, gender, place and age. Ask a Moroccan and he or she will tell you that either they were victims of bullying or were a bully.
Meryem’s suicide is a tragic response of a girl who could no longer stand her social vulnerability. “They scorn me with being from the karyane [a poorly equipped neighborhood made of slums] since we moved to the karyane, ” she told her father, according to a video report on 2M TV.
“They told her go, you who live in the karyane. Bullies were always scorning her,” her mother told 2M TV. She once told her mother: “You should not have given birth to us since you live in slums.”
Meryem was psychologically devastated due to the repetitive bullying and the intensity of verbal abuse she was undergoing on daily basis for no other reason than her social class. Poverty and social vulnerability were her only curse. But since when was poverty a source of cruel disrespect? This reminds us of the pain and suffering the outcast in marginalized areas endure every day.
The question here is how the scourge of bullying became socially accepted? How did school, supposedly an educational institution for instruction and discipline become a hotbed for intimidation and social conflicts? Why can’t our students have extra-curricular activities where they can grow and expose their talents?
Meryem’s death should be a wakeup call for the Moroccan society to reconsider its priorities. Let’s face it. Children’s souls are empty, parents spend less time with their kids. The latter find solace in social media, video games, drug abuse and other delinquent activities.
Time has come to put an end to the apathy surrounding this harmful practice. One should not settle for an awareness campaign on YouTube or other social media. What is really needed is willingness to step of our comfort zones and change realities. Let’s change mentalities by devoting time and energy at the grassroots level.
Why don’t we launch this campaign [#bullyingiswrong] in buses and train stations, in public schools and mosques? Let’s stand up together and repeat this message: bullying is wrong.