SINGAPORE - Shuqun Secondary School has investigated a bullying incident captured on video, and is counselling the students, the school said on Monday (Sept 21).
In another update at around 9.30pm, the school added that an adjunct teacher was in the classroom when the bullying occurred last Friday (Sept 18).
Adjunct teachers are former and retired teachers who work on flexible terms.
The school said it has since spoken to the teacher. The actual subject teacher was on childcare leave.
"What might first begin as playfulness could potentially end up hurting others. The student involved has been counselled and he deeply regrets his actions," the school said earlier in an email to The Straits Times.
The parents of the students involved have also been informed, the school added. It emphasised that it takes all incidents of bullying seriously and has anti-bullying programmes to help students deal with such incidents.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) added that it takes a "serious view of bullying in schools and does not condone such behaviour".
A 52-second video clip of the incident, which happened in a classroom at Shuqun Secondary School in Jurong East, was first posted on the Facebook page of All Singapore Stuff on Monday morning.
It has garnered over 300,000 views and had been shared more than 9,500 times as of Monday 6pm.
The video, which appears to have been filmed by another student, shows a male student slapping the head of a classmate repeatedly with both hands. He then picks up a book and uses it to hit the victim's head, before doing the same to another classmate who was seated nearby.
Both victims kept their heads bowed and did not retaliate. Another male student can be seen dancing on the teacher's table in the background while the bullying was going on.
The Straits Times understands that all the students in the video are classmates in the same Secondary 3 Normal (Technical) class.
A Secondary 3 Express student, who knows the ones involved but would not give his name, said: "They are just playing around but the slapping part is a bit extreme."
Parents said schools need to take action against bullying. Lawyer Edwin Lee, 47, a father of four boys aged 10 to 18, said: "This cannot be condoned anywhere, especially in a school. The boy must be sternly counselled and disciplined."
He added: "His fellow classmates who stood by silently should also be spoken to, to educate them that they should stand up for one another."
MOE's Facebook page has been inundated with requests from netizens to look into the matter.
People who commented on the original post condemned the student's actions and urged MOE and the school's authorities to take appropriate action.
Wrote netizen Alice Tan: "It's so ridiculous, school is a place to study...not for bullies. The school should take disciplinary action immediately."
Dr Thomas Lee, medical director and consultant psychiatrist at The Resilienz Clinic, said: "School bullying is quite common and it's not rare for victims to keep quiet, for fear of making the situation worse."
He noted: "Sitting there quietly probably indicates that the boy has been bullied before. As you show more signs of being victimised, the bully gets bolder."
He said prolonged bullying could lead to long-term psychological trauma that could persist into adulthood. The presence of social media may deter people from behaving badly, "but I don't think it changes the bullying trend significantly".
Bullies act aggressively to show that they are in power, especially when they are surrounded by their peers, he said.