For every Nhaveen, Zulfarahan and Thaqif, who were beaten senseless, how many other cases have escaped scrutiny?
An atmosphere of fear and oppression pervades our schools and universities. The high profile killings of 11-year-old tahfiz (Koran memorising) pupil, Mohd Thaqif Gaddafi Mohd Amin, 21-year-old marine cadet, Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain, and 18-year-old student, T Nhaveen, shocked us. The perpetrators have been caught, but when will the Ministry of Education get a grip and resolve the bullying in our schools and universities?
Gang culture taking advantage of neglected children
In some pockets of society, parents are so busy ekeing-out a living that they neglect the bringing-up of their children. The children are often ignored. Some are given extra pocket money, or material goods, to silence them. Others are just whacked, so that they do not disturb the parents. There is no communication, no love, no words of praise or encouragement.
The lack of adult supervision, and a failure of their guardians or parents to set boundaries, means that these neglected children become feral. They do what they want, wherever and whenever they desire.
For some of these neglected children, the closest to a sense of belonging, is to join a gang. To be appreciated. To be acknowledged and wanted.
Look at the loyalty shown by gang members. It is one-for-all and all-for-one. They enjoy a special relationship, and they are aware that breaking the gang’s rules can incur swift and harsh punishment. Gang members accept this, because that is the closest, they feel of being “loved”.
Nhaveen had everything to live for. As a responsible teenager, he worked in a shop, to help make ends meet and gain extra pocket money. He was looking forward to college life, and was due to leave for KL, for this next phase in his life.
Nhaveen and Zulfarhan had bright futures. Zulfarhan was studying at the Malaysian National Defence University (UPNM), and told his mother that he looked forward to the day he could serve his nation.
These young men died from the actions of their bullies. So, how many others escaped our attention, only because their injuries were not severe, or because both the victim, or his parents, did not want undue attention?
Friends and former teachers, of both victims, described them as quiet and good natured boys.
In Nhaveen’s case, his teachers admitted that he had been a frequent target for bullies. So, how did the school deal with these bullies? How bad is the culture of bullying in the school?
Discipline teachers who live in fear
My friends who are teachers, allege that disciplinary teachers are afraid to censure the known trouble-makers. Fear makes them reluctant to perform their duties.
Teachers, have who admonished these bullies found their cars “keyed”; when a key or sharp object, is used to scratch the paintwork of the car. The boys are also physically bigger than the teachers. Their other worry is that outside of the school compound, they face a real risk of being targeted, especially as some of the boys are members of street gangs.
Some people will deny that there is bullying, based on ethnicity, in our schools. This denial is dangerous because if left unchallenged will lead to problems in society. We cannot ignore that teachers also discriminate against certain races.
School bullying is rampant and increasing. Anyone who is deemed to be different, or boys who exhibit feminine traits are heavily teased. In Nhaveen’s case, the taunting spilled over into his private life. Two of his former perpetrators had left the school.
Sadly, both teachers and the victims of bullying, are reluctant to report cases of bullying. They are afraid of becoming new targets, or of the torment worsening.
Until the Minister of Education summons the political will to address this serious issue, we will see more unnecessary deaths.