Proposed suspension for school bullies should not deny children's right for education: Expert

KUALA LUMPUR: The Education Ministry should ascertain the proposed one-year suspension on school students who are involved in bullying cases, if it is implemented, does not deny them their right to receive education.

An expert in family law, women and children from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Prof Datuk Noor Aziah Mohd Awal (pix) said there was also a need to ascertain that the proposed move was not in conflict with the existing criminal justice system for child offenders.

"Regardless of what happened or offences committed, the rights of children, i.e. those below the age of 18, to receive education cannot be denied.

"If the school decides the matter (bully case) first before it is taken to the court, or if the school wants to handle the case by suspending the student involved, it means the school has denied the child the right to study," she said when contacted by Bernama.

Last week, Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid had suggested a one-year suspension on school students who are involved in bullying cases and said that the ministry would get feedback from the public on the plan.

Noor Aziah said the establishment of schools in prisons or Integrity School and the Henry School for young offenders or juveniles clearly proved that children should continue with their schooling, regardless of the offence they committed.

The children, she said, should be given guidance, instead of being punished.

"There has to be a reason that causes a child to be a bully, and we, as members of the society and parents, should be responsible for our children, if they bully others," she added.

Meanwhile, director of the Institute of Crime and Criminology at Help University, Datuk Akhbar Satar opined that suspending students involved in bullying cases from school could result in them getting involved in more serious offences, like theft, drug abuse and others.

"Of course, it will be stated that the children will be involved in charity work or be sent for rehabilitation during the suspension period, but can we control them for a year?" he added.

He suggested that students involved in bullying cases be sent for counselling.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) president Kamarozaman Abd Razak said the proposed one-year suspension should be reviewed as the duration was too long and could create various other implications.

However, National Parent-Teacher Association Collaborative Council president Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Ali viewed the proposed one-year suspension as an effective way to teach student bullies. — Bernama