Is your child a bully? Or is he being bullied?

What are our schools teaching if sexual harassment is not taken seriously, and making jokes about rape are considered ‘normal’? What is the message being passed on to our children?

Did the members of staff and warden not notice any of the bullying in any of the following cases?

All died at the hands of their bullies. (Left) T Nhaveen, (Centre) Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gaddafi (Beaten on the soles of his feet with a rubber hose, by his warden. The 11-year-old had his limbs amputated) (Right) Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain

In 2021, have we learnt any lessons from the previous cases of bullying?

Students may be afraid to speak up if they knew, but teachers and wardens appear to be unaware of what goes on in their schools.

There are other subtle signs. Prolonged absence from school. A drop in the quality of work. Bruises. Lack of sleep and not concentrating in class. Don’t these teachers know?

How serious is the problem of bullying in schools? More appropriately, is bullying in schools taken seriously and are bullies severely reprimanded to prevent a recurrence?

The murder trial of T Nhaveen has finally started at the High Court in Penang.

Four years ago, he was abducted while buying burgers at Bukit Gelugor, in Penang. His abductors were his former schoolmates.

Nhaveen died of his injuries when his abductors assaulted him by beating his head with their crash helmets and burning him with cigarette butts. He was also allegedly sodomised with a blunt instrument by his attackers

Nhaveen’s mother, D Shanti told the court that for a year, her son was fearful of going to school, because of the incessant bullying by the same bully.

A victim of bullying does not just suffer physical or mental scars, he also compromises his future. When the victim is afraid of attending class, he will suffer a setback in his studies. Or he may drop out of school altogether, because his fear of his bullies is greater than his fear of not getting an education.

During her testimony, Shanti said that her son was ambitious and eager to pass his SPM, so that he could attend a college in the Klang Valley and take up a music degree. He was also being employed part-time, as a shoe promoter at a shopping mall, to help pay his tuition fees.

Nhaveen was not only keen on his future, he was industrious enough to contribute towards his course fees.

During the trial, the court heard that when Nhaveen’s bully was suspended from school, Nhaveen’s fear of going to school vanished, and he started to resume his lessons as normal.

The court also heard that Shanti had confronted her son’s tormentor and told him to stop bullying Nhaveen, but the bully claimed that he, his friends, and Nhaveen, were only larking about.

The bully then warned Nhaveen to stop complaining to his mother about being bullied and to stop being effeminate by running to his mother to complain. He said, “A true man does not do this.”

So, was Nhaveen victimised, amongst other things, for his alleged sexuality?

In 2017, many cases of school bullying, besides Nhaveens, were reported in the papers. Was this an unprecedented number of cases? We know that publicity empowers others to report their own cases of bullying.

In May 2017, six students in Form Two of the Parit MARA Junior Science College (MRSM) complained about being bullied by 10 senior boys. When the victims refused to lend the older boys their football boots, the seniors assaulted them. In this school, the bullying was swiftly dealt with and the senior boys were suspended.

A few weeks later that May, the Mara college at Alor Gajah reported a case of bullying when seven seniors at the Mara school hostel slapped, punched and kicked a 14-year-old student at 3am. Other victims also came forward when this victim’s parents publicised their son’s assault. All the victims  had regularly been asked to run errands for the senior boys.

When the investigation appeared to be dragging, the parents of this victim raised the matter higher up the Mara chain of command, and they subsequently discovered that the parents of the bullies were VVIPs.

As a society we must ask this question, Should we keep one eye closed just because the bully is from a VVIP family, or do the victims deserve justice?

If not treated properly, victims of bullies will themselves become bullies. It transpired that one of the bullies in the Alor Gajah school, had himself been bullied in the past.

We were also told that one of the bullies had been transferred from another Mara school because of bullying.  Why should the bully be given a new batch of victims to terrorise?

Also in May 2017, naval cadet Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain, 21, who was studying at the Malaysian National Defence University (UPNM), died after being scalded and beaten by his fellow students. The instruments of torture were a belt, a rubber hose, a steam iron and a clothes hanger. He had been bound and tortured over a number of days.

Fast forward to 2021, is there a national database of bullying in schools?

A few people claim that there is an anti-bullying policy in schools, and a hotline is available for victims. How well publicised are they? Few people were aware of either the policy or the hotline, when I asked around.

Note: If you are being bullied and would like to chat to someone, try the Befrienders Tel no. 03-76272929. 

Rebuilding Malaysia

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