Bul­ly­ing must not be treated as ‘joke’

Ex­perts sug­gest that a re­port­ing sys­tem be es­tab­lished to ad­dress the issue on cam­pus

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHAO XINYING zhaoxiny­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

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