The Education Ministry must ensure that the proposed one-year suspension on school students involved in bullying cases, if implemented, does not deny them their right to receive an education.
An expert in family law, women and children from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Prof Noor Aziah Mohd Awal, said there was also a need to ascertain if the proposed move was not in conflict with the existing criminal justice system for child offenders.
“Regardless of what happened or what offences were committed, the rights of children, that is, those below the age of 18, to receive education cannot be denied.
“If the school decides the matter (bully case) first before it is taken to the court, or if the school wants to handle the case by suspending the student involved, it means the school has denied the child the right to study,” she said when contacted by Bernama.
Last week, Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid suggested imposing a one-year suspension on school students involved in bullying cases and said his ministry would await feedback from the public about the plan.
Noor Aziah said the establishment of schools in prisons or Integrity School and the Henry Gurney School for young offenders or juveniles clearly proved that children should continue with their schooling, regardless of the offences they committed.
The children, she said, should be given guidance, instead of punishment.
“There has to be a reason that causes a child to become a bully, and we, as members of society and parents, should be responsible for our children, if they bully others,” she added.
Meanwhile, Help University’s Institute of Crime and Criminology Director Akhbar Satar, opined that suspending bullies from school could result in them becoming involved in more serious offences, like theft and drug abuse.
“Of course, it will be stated that the children will be involved in charity work or be sent for rehabilitation during the suspension period, but can we control them for a year?” he asked, suggesting they be sent for counselling instead.
National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) president Kamarozaman Abd Razak said the proposed one-year suspension should be reviewed as the duration was too long and could result in various other issues cropping up.
However, National Parent-Teacher Association Collaborative Council President Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Ali viewed the proposed one-year suspension as an effective way to teach student bullies a lesson.