Bullying must not be treated as ‘joke’
Experts suggest that a reporting system be established to address the issue on campus
A bullying incident at a primary school in Beijing should not be brushed off as “a joke that went too far”; rather, facts should be dug out and action should be taken to prevent similar events from happening on campus again, according to experts.
Huang Zifang, a psychologist specializing in children’s growth issues, said schools should be careful about taking bullying incidents as mere pranks.
“Instead, they should work to find out the root cause of the incident in a timely manner, guide the children involved to face and handle the incident in a correct way and teach them to behave properly to avoid- similar situations,” Huang said.
She made the comments after a mother in Beijing posted a description online on Thursday of how her 10-year-old son was bullied at Zhongguancun No 2 Primary School, a top school in Haidian district.
The mother wrote that her fourth-grade son was the target of bullies who threw a toilet wastepaper basket at him, striking him in the head. The boy was also mocked by his classmates, she said, bringing on acute stress disorder — a mental illness triggered by severe anxiety.
The mother also wrote that the school described the incident as “a joke that went too far” and that the parents of the boy who threw the basket believed their son was “just being naughty”.
The article went viral, with many internet users recalling being bullied at school.
Shen Xu — a volunteer from Beijing who has traveled the country for several years to work with schools to reduce bullying — said schools should take responsibility for such incidents and try to make the bullies understand that their behavior is “vicious and harmful” and “not allowed”.
“In the long run, a reporting system should be established to root out bullying on campus. Students should be given specific channels to report what they experience to teachers before further measures are taken to deal with incidents,” Shen said.
Huang, the psychologist, said that schools and parents must pay more attention to the ethical development and mental health of children, rather than just looking at their academic performance.
The Ministry of Education, together with a group of other departments, released a series of guidelines last month offering advice on how to deal with the problem.
On Saturday, Zhongguancun No 2 Primary School released a statement on its social media account saying that it had talked to the parents on both sides and would make further efforts to achieve an outcome satisfactory to all parties.
Xinhua contributed to this story.