It is indeed worrying to read about the spate of bullying and pranks in schools which have resulted in tragic consequences recently.
Something needs to be done to tackle this serious social problem. Or do we need another death to prompt us into action?
Recently, a 15 year old schoolboy died as a result of bullying. The victim, a Form 3 student, Azim Hakimi Abu Shuja, must have been a brave, kind boy and also a good friend. When one of his friend’sschoolbags was thrown out of the classroom window as a prank, Azim tried to help to retrieve the bag.
He stepped on a ledge on the third floor while trying to retrieve it, and unfortunately lost his balance and fell to his death. This happened at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Putrajaya Presint 9 (2).
Another incident involved a 14 year old boy who suffered serious head and body injuries after he was attacked by four Form 4 students at his school. He suffered severe internal bleeding in the head and had to be admitted to the intensive care unit Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital in Alor Setar, Kedah. Kuala Muda District Police Chief stated that the reason for the attack was that one of the boys was resentful of the victim because he had pulled his sibling into a classroom.
As a result, the four boys confronted the victim ; proceeded to beat him up and slammed his head against the wall. When he was taken to hospital, there were clear signs of internal bleeding as a result.
Yet another case revealed a terrifying 11 second video on Facebook which showed a scene where five boys were holding another boy who was spread-eagled in order for the others to repeatedly bang his groin against a pole. The victim appeared to be crying out in pain while the others seemed to be enjoying this cruel act.
The above incidents clearly reveal that the perpetrators were either unable or unwilling to distinguish between a simple prank and where that line is crossed to become something far more sinister – an act of violence; torture; cruel; and dangerous conduct.
Deputy Education Minister II Datuk P. Kamalanathan stated that all bullying cases should be reported to the authorities so that action can be taken.
In the first case, Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid also stated that the Ministry will review the designs of school buildings in order to improve safety features.
But is this enough, however? What more should be done in schools? For a start, disciplinary measures must be stepped up so that students observe a strict code of conduct. Enforcement of good discipline must be effectively ensured so that the growing menace of gang cultures in schools can be nipped in the bud.
Perhaps there should also be a specific official appointed in all Primary and Secondary schools to deal with bullying cases. An avenue for complaints to be made anonymously should also be there, so that whistleblowers will be brave enough to come forward if they have witnessed a bullying incident which needs to be investigated further.
Counselling and rehabilitation for the victim should be done in a compassionate and discreet manner, so that victims do not feel “shy” to return to the school environment after a traumatic bullying incident.
All parties need to be aware that bullying can be excruciatingly painful and traumatic at many levels – physically, emotionally and socially. Most victims do not talk about it but desperately need attention and help.
The meaning of bullying should also be widened to include all acts that may cause terror, intimidate or victimize others. Bullying should not be limited to just physical acts, because a person can be emotionally and mentally tortured as well.
Parents also need to be vigilant and look out for signs of depression, isolation or loneliness associated with bullying. They should not take it lightly and should investigate the matter further; and take the issue to the relevant authorities if necessary.
School children must also be careful of what they post on social media such as Facebook. A controversial post can have deadly consequences, as the recent incident involving a group of girls in Georgetown revealed.
A heated Facebook chat between a 15 year old schoolgirl and some friends turned violent when one of them came to look for her together with other family members. A fight ensued, leading to the death of a 56 year old man after he was attacked by a group of about six girls, aged between 15 and 20, who were armed with helmets.
The Form Two student’s mother was also seriously injured in the attack. The case was classified as murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code.
As a society, where have we gone wrong ? How can a group of youngsters become so angry that they can assault and brutally kill someone? Have we placed too much emphasis on academic excellence in schools at the sacrifice of character development, values and morals ?
Something needs to be done urgently to address these issues before more tragedies involving schoolchildren occur.