GEORGE TOWN: The National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) here has called on the Education Ministry to launch a safety campaign to educate teenagers about cyber bullying and the correct way to access the online world.
This is following the heartbreaking tale of a 16-year-old teenager who was believed to have committed suicide by throwing herself off the third floor of a shop house in Padawan, Sarawak recently.
The teenager was said to have conducted an online poll on her Instagram account by asking her followers if she should ‘live’ or ‘die,‘ of which 69% of the respondents were said to have supported her quest to take her own life.
There was also concern that there was no attempt made to save the depressed girl by either alerting the authorities or by fully dissuading her online.
Penang NUTP chairman Ng Weng Tutt said that it was now timely to initiate a social and safety campaign to teach youngsters about the pitfalls of accessing the wrong material and illegal sites, as well as the abuse of social media.
“It is also about educating the parents on how to handle the abuse and negativity from too much use of social media among the young,” Ng said in an interview.
Expressing the union’s grief over the girl’s apparent suicide, Ng said that teachers only have a limited role to play as cellular devices from smartphones to tablets remained under an enforced ban in public schools.
“Unless parents are condoning the smuggling in of smartphones, such devices are prohibited in our public schools. And I hope there is enforcement here.”
To fully protect a child against the negativity in the online world, it is the supreme role of the parents and legal guardians, Ng said.
A campaign can offer people tips and assistance on parental responsibility over the access to the internet, he said.
In this context, Ng said that there is no denying that it is difficult to contain the negativity which comes with the online connectivity as the medium has expanded to become a major influence on the lives of its users in the new millennium.
“We can only count on the good sense of the people not to be totally influenced by what they see and read online, including from con syndicates who cheat lonely women. But in all aspects, parents need to impose their will on their children.”
He said that parents must screen the content which their children have access to.
They must also impose a time limit on the use of such devices.
Ng said that the government needs to step up their effort to address the issue before another tragedy strikes.