As a victim of bullying in the past, I am worried by the number of bullying cases in schools (Bullying in school: Cases remained stable last year, May 12).
I am heartened that this issue has gained public attention and that the Ministry of Education (MOE) takes a serious view of bullying and hazing.
I urge schools to work more closely with the parents of bullies.
Young children are subconsciously influenced by their parents. A child picks up values from his upbringing.
If parents firmly teach their children that bullying is wrong, this could go a long way.
We also must address the “bystander effect”.
Students do not dare to defend victims, for fear of becoming the next target. Some join in by laughing at the victim.
These responses make bullies think their behaviour is acceptable. Such behaviour also ostracises the victim, severely affecting his well-being.
The importance of a fulfilling education journey cannot be overestimated.
It moulds a student’s character, values and outlook in life. Victims of bullying are robbed of such a journey.
I urge MOE policymakers and school leaders to take a firmer stand on bullying and implement national-level measures, including anti-bullying campaigns and inviting past victims, as well as bullies who have turned over a new leaf, to share their stories.
As a last resort, harsh punitive measures, such as public caning in school, should be taken when warranted. Punishment sends a clear message of zero tolerance towards bullying.
I call on teachers to keep an extra close watch on vulnerable and marginalised groups who are at higher risk of becoming victims.