How to handle Hong Kong school bullies: with tough love and stricter penalties
I refer to the article, “Chinese province Guangdong clamps down on school bullies with tougher penalties” (November 13). I welcome and support this move by Hong Kong’s next-door neighbour and hope our city can take a similarly strong stand, especially as Hong Kong ranked first among 53 countries and territories in a 2015 international survey on the percentage of children bullied at least a few times a month. This abuse does not end in the schoolyard but extends into the online world as well.
Ignoring bullies harms both the victim and the perpetrator. Being bullied at school can lead to depression, anxiety disorders and even suicide, and affect future development. But bullies are also hurting in their own way, for they may be themselves be victims of abuse or lack warmth or affection at home. So if victims do not report bullying incidents out of fear, and neither do witnesses, both the bullied and the bully are failed by the system.
Both parents and teachers, apart from school social workers, have a role to play in helping children stand up to bullies, whether in the real or cyber world. They need to be more attuned to this problem, and teach children about empathy and compassion, as well as the need to speak up if they see wrongdoing.
Being bullied does not mean you are weak or childish. Bullies don’t need a reason to act as they do, but they do need to learn that such behaviour is unacceptable and they must learn respect, which is where stiffer penalties can help.
Suen Hok Man, Tsuen Wan