Shuqun ex-principal slams online vitriol

In his post, Mr Chia shared a photo of the three boys taken on the first day they returned to school after the incident, and said that they had become friends again that day.
In his post, Mr Chia shared a photo of the three boys taken on the first day they returned to school after the incident, and said that they had become friends again that day.PHOTO: CHIA HAI SIANG/FACEBOOK

Criticism of school and 'bully' in head-hitting incident unfair, irresponsible: Chia Hai Siang

The former principal of Shuqun Secondary School, where a boy was filmed hitting the heads of two other boys repeatedly in a viral video last September, has spoken out against the online criticism of the school and the "bully".

In a lengthy Facebook post, Mr Chia Hai Siang, who headed the school from 2012 till the end of last year when he left the education service, said that many netizens had made "false accusations" and "derisory comments" without full knowledge of the facts, and this was unfair to the school, its staff, students and alumni.

In fact, one of his students said the way that the adults behaved online made the students afraid to go out in public in their uniforms after school and to participate in social media, he recounted.

She had asked: "How is this not bullying?"

"I had no answer for her," Mr Chia wrote in the post, which he hashtagged #howisthisnotbullying.

In his post, he shared a photo of the three boys taken on the first day they returned to school after the incident, and said that they had become friends again that day.

He wrote: "The 'bully' apologised in person and in writing to both victims and to the class. Both victims forgave him and they were friends again within two hours."

He added that the boy was dealt with according to school rules and all the parents involved were satisfied with the actions of the school.

In fact, two weeks after the incident, the mother of one of them withdrew a police report that she had made as she was satisfied with how the school had handled the incident, he wrote.

Both the victims also wrote to him to say that they felt sorry for their friend. The three boys and their classmates volunteered to bake brownies and make drinks for visitors during the school's open house in November, to help repair the damage caused to the school's reputation.

"I am very proud of them," Mr Chia wrote.

He said that he was not leaving because of the incident. He had decided to further his studies before the incident happened.

He then derided the "sensationalised" reporting of the incident, and said that he had not responded more actively to online reports because he did not want to encourage irresponsible reports.

Such reports might have fed some of the extreme online vitriol, he said.

"These included many threats by netizens, such as 'If I see the boy, I will bash his skull in', 'Let me give him a taste of his own medicine'... There were false accusations of gang connections and that the boy was a compulsive bully," he wrote.

The post has been shared more than 3,000 times since it was posted yesterday morning.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu shared the post and said: "Many thoughtful and heartfelt reflections worth our consideration. All of us users of social media have a responsibility to other users, in what we 'like' and share, and in our comments."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2016, with the headline 'Shuqun ex-principal slams online vitriol'. Print Edition | Subscribe