Not just students being bullied in schools

Although Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng has commented that bullying in schools is "stable and managed", it was also mentioned that about 5 per cent of students have been physically bullied (Bullying in schools 'stable and managed'; Oct 4).

This figure is substantial. One might argue that a figure closer to 1 per cent would be more acceptable.

Moreover, it is possible that 5 per cent is an underestimation, as victims may be too timid or reluctant to report an incident.

It is also noteworthy that students are not the only victims of bullying in schools. Another vulnerable but often overlooked group are teachers.

In this case, social stigma and even administrative pressure may deter teachers from reporting students who bully them, perhaps not physically but verbally and socially.

The presence of such bullies should not be tolerated, as they not only demean the teacher as a person but also undermine his or her ability to carry out lessons by their misbehaviour and by emboldening others to act likewise.

It is assumed that teachers, being adults and professionals, would be able to manage, or simply put up with, difficult students.

The reality, however, is that students may be not only more physically intimidating but also verbally disrespectful and abusive.

One can only commiserate with the teacher who has to handle them frequently and try to help them achieve a good educational outcome.

In short, it is only by considering both students and teachers as potential victims that one can derive a more complete picture of bullying in our schools.

Daniel Ng Peng Keat (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2017, with the headline 'Not just students being bullied in schools'. Print Edition | Subscribe