How do kids become bullies?

09 Nov 2023 05:34pm
Parents should teach their children about bullying - FILE PIX
Parents should teach their children about bullying - FILE PIX

SHAH ALAM - One of the factors that might lead to young children's early involvement in bullying is their tendency to observe and imitate the actions of their current surroundings.

According to Head of Department of Paediatrics Ara Damansara Medical Centre Dr Rakhee Yadav, children frequently 'see and do’ (mimic) the actions of those in their immediate surroundings, including friends, parents, siblings, family, teachers, and strangers from homes and schools.

Dr Rakhee said parents should teach their children about bullying in general and set a good example for them in hopes that they may learn more about right and wrong and the fundamental morals in life.

“The first step in doing this should be to thoroughly teach children about the meaning and consequences of bullying, as well as how to encourage them to speak up when they see bullying happening, strive for effective communication, and report any further incidences.

“When it comes to helping their kids and strengthening their bond with them, parents need to be willing to talk about it. Discover more about the children's days, friends, and school activities by taking the time to explore further into their lives.

"Prevention is more beneficial compared to solving an issue that has already happened and could cause mental trauma for those affected and any parties involved," she told Sinar Daily.

As per a survey by the Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation, 84 per cent of children under the age of 18 are impacted by bullying in one way or another. Bullying can take many different forms, such as cyberbullying and physical violence that results in serious injuries or even fatalities in certain situations.

As there is no specific legislation in Malaysia regarding bullying instances, parents and educational institutions play an essential role in educating students about bullying and its negative effects.

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She also added that the 3 Rs of bullying (recognise, report, and refuse) are crucial to enforcing the anti-bullying component.

“Schools have important responsibilities as well. They should have tight regulations on bullying matters, enforce zero tolerance, and advise parents and students of the rules of bullying situations that may be investigated thoroughly and result in a student's dismissal from the school.

“Through instruction, advocacy, and public awareness-raising regarding bullying and its consequences, schools may more effectively educate children as well as their parents,” she said.

She said when bullying takes place in children's lives, some of the immediate effects include physical abuse, low self-esteem, poor academic performance, and abuse in the family. Long-term abuse, on the other hand, can result in ongoing maltreatment, and bullying among adults can be harmful to their mental health.

She also mentioned parents can visit physicians, educators, or the bully hotlink to get early intervention to reach help for children from counsellors, psychologists, paediatricians, and developmental paediatrician.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Women's Aspiration Organisation (Aswa) chairman Wan Azliana Wan Adnan pointed out that although Malaysia already has the Penal Code and regulations like the Education Ordinance 1957, the Education (School Discipline) Regulations 1959, and related circulars, it is still necessary to improve current laws.

She said that many are unaware that bullying is illegal, may lead to victims' lives being permanently ruined, and should be acknowledged by everyone.

"Thus, it ought to be regarded as a significant offence that is increasingly commonplace rather than merely a disciplinary issue," she said in a statement on Tuesday.

Even so, Wan Azliana believes that to eradicate the bullying culture in schools, all relevant parties, which include school administrators, parents, the Parents and Teachers Association (PIBG), the Education Ministry (MoE), the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), and the community, must work together.

She also mentioned that teaching through punishment is necessary to make it very evident to bullies and other students that this behaviour will not be tolerated.

“Bullying is a crime that must be taught to students; they are required to be aware that bullying is more than just a behavioural issue that requires reprimanding.

"It is imperative that students receive education and understanding on the criminal offence of bullying. It is crucial to recognise that bullying is more than simply a disciplinary issue; it is a crime.

“What does it imply to be highly knowledgeable yet lacking in admirable morality in the eyes of the younger generation? Thus, it is essential to begin efforts early to instill excellent morals, particularly in schools, "she said.

As the Head of the Movement for the Drafting of the Anti-Bullying Act, Azliana has high hopes that the government will enact a special law to deal with cases of bullying involving school students, saying that the incident should not be taken lightly because it has a negative effect on the victim physically, psychologically, and emotionally.