In order to eliminate the problem of schoolyard bullying, Vice Premier Sean Chen has announced the establishment of an interdepartmental anti-bullying platform that will implement a plan to prevent such incidents, while Minister of Education Wu Ching-ji (吳清基) has pledged that he will treat schoolyard bullying in the same way as SARS and aims to mobilize the entire nation.
The Ministry of Education has also broached the idea of letting the police onto school campuses and military instructors back into junior high schools.
These schoolyard “bad elements” are young people, not even 16 years old, who for various reasons have developed deviant behavior. They bully and hurt their fellow students, and are guilty of many other wrongdoings.
However, schools are not military barracks, nor are they police stations; they are educational institutions and it is part of their duties to educate these young people that government officials perceive to be bad elements.
The current wave of reports about school bullying has angered the general public and caused a cascade of complaints. In response, all that the government’s educational bureaucrats can come up with is to let police onto school campuses and military instructors back into junior high schools.
It is clear that in the minds of education ministry officials, the police and military instructors are more capable of solving the bullying problem and are better positioned to educate these bad elements.
This makes one wonder why we need an education ministry. How can the minister of education even think that he can simply pass his troubles on to the police and the military?
What it comes down to is that bullying is an educational problem and the ministry cannot pass this problem on to the military, police or the judicial system.
We cannot give up on any child and the ministry should propose an effective educational solution instead of trying to come up with programs to deal with criminals.
Also, the Cabinet should not just put on a show with a “platform” that only aims to gloss over things to placate the public, but accomplishes nothing.
What is even worse is that they now want to let large numbers of police and military into school grounds.
Educational problems should be solved with educational means. The education ministry has no idea how it should deal with the bullying problem and the main reason is the attitude of the ministry’s officials.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that junior high school students are emotionally unstable. We cannot only focus on knowledge and learning, we also have to focus on personal development.
To be able to care for the personal development of junior high school students, schools need sufficient psychological counselors and social workers.
My personal experience of junior high school students in the US shows that there is one psychological counselor for approximately every 200 students.
If the education ministry doesn’t want to face up to the fact that there is a major shortage of psychological counselors and social workers at our schools, they mights as well set up an anti-terrorist department and install permanent anti-crime and anti-terrorist teams at every school and be done with it.
Allen Houng is a professor at National Yang-Ming University’s Institute of Philosophy of Mind and Cognition.