Schools need to do more to curb bullying

Secondary School students leaving the school's parade square after assembly.
Secondary School students leaving the school's parade square after assembly. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

The case of a secondary school adjunct teacher confronting a 10-year-old boy whom he accused of bullying his son highlights a real issue that many parents face today when their children are bullied at school (Adjunct teacher jailed for assaulting boy, 10, April 30).

As an uncle of a nephew who has been bullied in school for years, I can empathise with parents when the schools tell them they are doing something but the bullying continues unabated.

Teachers often just scold the offender and leave it at that. What often happens is that the bully, after being warned, will put on his best behaviour in front of the teacher, but when no one is looking, continues harassing his victim.

Bullying can cause serious psychological effects on victims because they feel trapped and powerless to stop the bullying. Bullies, on the other hand, often behave the way they do because they have family issues or are neglected by their parents.

While it is clearly wrong what the adjunct teacher did when he took matters into his own hands, parents are sometimes at their wits' end when schools tell them not to intervene but the bullying continues.

Schools need to find more effective ways to help those who are bullied. At the same time, they need to do more to help bullies instead of just reprimanding them.

Perhaps it is time for schools to focus more on counselling bullies - to help them get to the root cause of their issues.

Alvin Hang Woei Yau

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2019, with the headline 'Schools need to do more to curb bullying'. Print Edition | Subscribe