BULLYING incidents in schools should not be swept under the carpet.
Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan warned that action would be taken against school officials, if they failed to report such cases, in their interest to protect the school’s image.
“They will be in trouble. The ministry will not hesitate to take action as there are guidelines on behaviour and conduct for civil servants and that includes those in the school administration,” he said after launching an anti-bully campaign in SMK Taman Bunga Raya (1), Bukit Beruntung, Rawang, Selangor on Tuesday.
The campaign which involved all secondary schools in the Hulu Selangor district, was organised by Putera MIC.
Kamalanathan said the percentage of students who committed bullying-related offences from 2012 to 2016 had dropped from 0.08% to 0.06%, while as of June this year, the numbers were at 0.02%.
He said the ministry’s objective was to educate, prevent and eradicate bullying which was a social ill in schools. There are guidelines and they must be strictly adhered to at all times, he reiterated.
When contacted, Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said some schools protect bullies as they are mostly older students.
“It also doesn’t reflect well on the principal’s key performance indicators (KPI), if senior students have bad records.
“This is especially so in premier schools with good students, so teachers would not want to show records of any student dropping out,” she added.
Noor Azimah said such practices are done at the expense of the victim.
“A victim remains a victim, and more often than not, schools wait for them to voluntarily transfer out, or they endure (the pain and harassment) until the seniors leave the school.
“There should be zero tolerance towards bullying. It is unfortunate,” she said.
Noor Azimah said that many bullying cases go unreported as victims were aware of the lack of intervention from school administrators. She hoped that schools will take note of the deputy minister’s statement and act accordingly.
National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock said the union does not condone any bullying acts and if they are kept under wraps, and away from the authorities.However, he stressed that teachers are not enforcers.
“The line between bullying and other criminal activities, as well as students merely ‘monkeying’ around, is a thin one.
“Some students don’t always tell the truth and if their cases are brought up, what will happen to their future?
“Sometimes, students make mistakes and we must give them a chance to change,” he said.
Tan added, if there are repeated offences and offenders, reports should be lodged. They should also be investigated thoroughly. However he questioned if it was necessary to do so in one-off instances.
National Union of Heads of Schools (Selangor branch) chairman Hor Jun Hin said no school should hide cases in which students are bullied and victimised. Instead, they should find a way to solve the problem.
At the event, each secondary school in the district received a brief guidebook along with a complaint box.