Letters - No to year-long suspension

THE Ministry of Education’s suggestion to enforce a year-long suspension on students involved in bullying cases is rather shocking.

There is enough evidence which shows that suspension fails to change student behaviour, especially when used frequently and inconsistently. It often does more harm than good. It is discriminatory against those who actually need support and guidance.

It’s time to recognise that suspension is not an effective solution to discipline issues. It does not address the real problems of bullies.

The ministry must determine the root cause of bullying before hastily implementing long suspensions for bullies. Exclusion will only make things worse for them.

The aim should be proper rehabilitation. Both schools and parents should take steps to prevent and stop bullying in schools as early as kindergarten.

Teach children about what bullying is and how and why it is harmful. This is an important foundation to stop bullying behaviour before it starts.

Teach a child the importance of empathy. A child who is able to understand what it feels like to be bullied, may regulate his own emotions and less likely to engage in bullying behaviour. Parents must set a good example. Stop making fun of other people in front of your children. Stop speaking rudely to others. Your children are watching and learning the bad intimidating behaviour from you.

Schools must formulate effective programmes to deter bullying. A clear policy on how to discipline bullies and implementing consistent corrective measures, is an essential component of school bullying prevention. Schools must investigate all bullying complaints immediately and demonstrate that bullying is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

It will also show students and parents that you take bullying seriously and such cases are not ignored. Schools should communicates to the bullies, and potential bullies, that the school will take action when bullying occurs.

When there are consequences for bullying at school, this helps deter bullying in the future.

The bully should be referred for counselling by a qualified counsellor. Schools and parents must monitor the bully’s behaviour and continue to discipline if necessary. If at all suspension is meted out, it should be to help ease investigations and should not be longer than 1-2 weeks.

The ministry is urged to engage in discussions with paediatricians, psychiatrist and counsellors to formulate a comprehensive plan on prevention of bullying in schools.

Dr N. Thiyagar
Malaysian Paediatric Association