Cane bullies to send strong message

I am perturbed that the six Secondary 3 students who viciously attacked a classmate received only counselling and vague "appropriate disciplinary measures" (Westwood Secondary students counselled, disciplined after video of fight in classroom goes viral; ST Online, Feb 18).

We need to adopt a more practical approach, with effective anti-bullying measures, and this has to be communicated to the whole school community as well as parents.

If left unchecked, this type of senseless bullying in schools could fester into gangsterism, which is why the Ministry of Education (MOE) should insist on suitable corporal punishment as a deterrent.

Yes, the cane should be brought back to restore order to the classroom. I suggest the following to crack down on bullying.

First, MOE should announce that, with immediate effect, bullying in schools will not be tolerated. There will be no second chances - when caught, offenders will be sent to the principal's office for caning.

A serious warning will be issued: If the bullying persists, the offender may be expelled from school or a police report may be made.

Second, encourage victims or other students to report incidents to teachers immediately, while teachers themselves should be vigilant in spotting such behaviour.

It is necessary that MOE and schools take pre-emptive action to eradicate this kind of unhealthy behaviour in schools. I do not see the merits of spending large resources to install closed-circuit television cameras in all classrooms to monitor a few bullying cases (Take concrete steps to end bullying, by Mr Ang Kwang Yong; March 1).

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on , with the headline 'Cane bullies to send strong message'. Print Edition | Subscribe