Locker rooms: a place that shrouds fistfights, harassment, abuse and bullying – what happens behind the closed doors of locker rooms might be a guffaw for some but a reason for sobs and silent tears for others. The recent case of Richie Incognito, the Miami Dolphin footballer, throwing racial slurs at Jonathan Martin, a team member, in a locker room only strengthens the association locker rooms in high schools, as well as professional sports, have with bullying. Boys’ locker rooms are more likely to be the bullies’ latest haunt.
The locker room culture
Despite the publicity it has gathered, bullying in locker room is still rampant among high school teens. Imagine a room full of teenage boys, raging with testosterone after their gym class. There is bound to be some tension as to who is more macho than the others. The ‘macho’ sportsmen who need to assert their masculinity sniff weakness in other schoolfellows and bully them on different grounds – class, race, physique or mannerisms. The locker room culture involves tracking down a weak link and weeding it out. Schools are not safe from bullying by a long shot.
The concept of the survival of the fittest is dominant in the world of high testosterone male competitive sports. Playful teasing, mild insults and innocent pranks are commonplace among players. For the most part, this behavior is considered acceptable and even beneficial for team spirit. But not every high school student takes locker room bullying that well.
Teens don't talk
When it comes to reasons why men, and for that matter boys too, find it so difficult to seek help when they are bullied in the locker rooms at their high school, we are at a loss. Perhaps it’s this stereotypical thinking rampant in our society that ‘real men’ don’t go running for help; instead they take care of their own business. In many cases we see that victims are too scared of their tormentors to go for help to someone.
Preventing locker room bullying
Although it is difficult to prevent locker room bullying, parents can take steps to curtail it. A change in your teen’s behavior or other signs will clearly indicate that he or she is having trouble at school. Build a strong bridge between yourself and your teen so that they do not hesitate to talk to you.
Keep yourself updated with everything that is happening at their school. Keep in touch with the school management and teachers. Tell them if you see signs that your teen is being bullied. Make sure you know your teen’s classmates and the people he interacts with at school.
Due to a rise in the number of school shooting and gunfire incidents, educational institutions have tightened their security loop, but the school management, all over the country, has a long way to go to curb locker room bullying. Appointing a locker supervisor who observes the activities going on in the locker room can be a wise move on part of the school management.