MOE to establish 'peer support culture' in schools to tackle bullying

Bullying in becoming increasingly complex.

Joshua Lee | January 05, 2021, 04:05 PM

The Ministry of Education (MOE) is strengthening support for schools to tackle bullying.

In a Parliamentary reply dated January 4, Education Minister Lawrence Wong wrote that the ministry "takes a serious view of bullying and works with schools to send a clear message to all students that any form of bullying is not acceptable".

"Since 2012, the number of incidents reported each year to schools has remained low, at about two incidents per 1000 primary students and five incidents per 1000 secondary students."

When it comes to bullying, schools state clear rules and consequences, brief their staff and students regularly on bullying, investigate cases promptly, take appropriate disciplinary action to guide perpetrators and restore relationships with their victims, and provide counselling support to those who have been hurt.

These are the ways that schools articulate their zero-tolerance stance on bullying, said Wong.

Bullying cases are increasingly complex

However, bullying cases are increasingly complex, with some extending into online space.

"There may also be concerns that there may be cases of bullying that go unreported and victims continue to suffer."

Wong added that the ministry will strengthen support in three areas:

First, a refreshed Character and Citizenship Education Curriculum with a strong emphasis on guiding students to be kind and caring, both online and offline.

Second, a peer support culture whereby every student understands that bullying is wrong and learns how to help and support those who have been bullied.

Lastly, increased capacity in schools to foster positive class culture, investigate and address bullying, and work with parents and the community to educate students.

Bullied student tried to overdose on painkillers

The ministry's responses comes on the back of two high profile incidents that happened in local schools in 2020.

In March 2020, Mee Toh School was beset with allegations of racist abuse after a student was allegedly taunted with racist remarks and became the victim of cyber-bullying,

It was also reported that her uniform had been vandalised with markers.

In December 2020, another account of a bullied student surfaced. A 13-year-old girl with dyslexia was taunted on anonymous messaging app Tellonym. The bullies called her names even asked her to kill herself.

The girl, who was both physically and verbally assaulted, subsequently tried to overdose on painkillers.

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