One in four secondary school students a victim of bullying

ONE in four secondary schoolchildren is a victim of bullying, a recent Singapore Children's Society survey has found.  

Of the 519 students questioned by the society, 129 said they had been bullied. And, even more worryingly, several of those who have been bullied go on to become bullies themselves.  

Of the 129 victims, the survey found, 37 were also bullies. Of these, 10 said they became bullies because they were bullied before.  

Said Tan Bee Joo, head of the society's Bukit Merah Centre: “In these cases, the victims don't know where to vent their frustrations. They feel that they don't have to be kind to others since other people are being unkind to them. This is worrying because it becomes a vicious circle.”  

One such victim-turned-bully is Penny (not her real name). Three years ago, when she was in Secondary Two, she was a victim of school bullying and dealt with her feelings of anger and helplessness by terrorising others.  

In Penny's case, she wanted others to feel her pain. For a year, the bully in her class threw her books out of the window, hurled vulgarities at her, and once kicked her chair so hard that she fell forward and bruised her chin.  

To compensate, she would throw her juniors' bags into the school pond. It was, she said, her way of “feeling in control”.  

The survey was conducted in March and the respondents were picked randomly island-wide.  

During the door-to-door visits, they were asked, among other things, how they were bullied and how they felt about it. The poll defined bullying as a hurtful behaviour repeated at least twice a month.  

The two most-common forms of bullying were verbal. Half (50.4%) of the victims had vulgar language used on them and slightly more than a third (34.9%) were called names that hurt their feelings. The spreading of negative rumours about the victim was the third-most common experience (29.5%).  

Said Tan: “Although the impact of physical bullying is greater, we cannot underestimate the effect of verbal abuses. Bullying usually starts small and, if you don't curb it then, it may become a big problem later.”  

Bullied children are usually perceived to be meek and submissive, but interestingly, more than a third of the victims surveyed (37.2%) said they took revenge on the bully.  

What the victims should do, said Tan, is to tell their teachers and parents, instead of suffer in silence or seek revenge. – The Straits Times / Asia News Network  

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