Anti-bullying campaigns effective, ministry says

Staff Writer, with CNA

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 - Page 3

Anti-bullying campaigns in schools have proven effective, with students reporting cases of bullying much earlier, Ministry of Education (MOE) officials said yesterday.

At an international anti-bullying forum hosted by the Humanist Education Foundation, ministry officials said that in the past, reports of bullying in schools peaked right before graduation, but this year students have been informing the authorities since winter break.

A “friendly school environment” week will take place from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5 in which county and city mayors will be invited to visit schools to help promote the anti-bullying campaign, ministry officials added.

Officials said letters have been sent to schools to remind them that the week entails more than just distributing stickers and shouting slogans, and that more meaningful educational programs such as skits and group discussions should take place to encourage students to share their experiences.

The ministry started the anti-bullying campaign after a series of middle school and high school bullying incidents came to the fore last year.

Debra Pepler, a professor at the Department of Health at York University in Canada and an international expert on bullying issues, said cooperation between relevant organizations, groups and people was necessary to prevent bullying.

Schools should advocate respect, tolerance and a positive attitude in resolving intimidating behavior, said Pamela Munn, a retired professor of the Moray House of Education, University of Edinburgh.

Formal classes can also be scheduled to heighten awareness of bullying and establish mechanisms to offer staff, parents, teachers and students counseling, Munn added.

Bullying, though, is not always aggressive.

According to Mitsuru Taki, a researcher at the National Institute for Educational Policy Research in Tokyo, bullying in Japan is mostly indirect aggression, which he defined as spreading gossip, pushing, ridiculing and slandering.

He said, this definition of bullying requires new strategies for resolving the issues for victims, bullies and other children.