Bullying in Singapore: What you must know to protect your child?
Bullying is a serious problem that we must confront. Read on to find out about the bullying situation in Singapore and how you can protect your child from it.
Singapore is a great place for students – we have a world-class education system and our schools offer a great environment. However, in spite of all of this, there is a serious problem that our students are facing. Did you know that bullying in Singapore is rampant and more dangerous than you think it is?
Bullying in Singapore – Current situation
Findings from data gathered by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) show Singapore to have the third highest rate of bullying globally.
Latvia and New Zealand are the only two countries where bullying is worse than in Singapore.
Before we go on, it’s important to take note that the findings are based on a study conducted in 2015, and are based on 5825 students, randomly selected from 168 public schools and 290 students from 9 private schools.
These findings might not necessarily be an accurate representation of the student population at large, and the Ministry of Education (MOE) is closely monitoring the situation of bullying in Singapore.
MOE does not tolerate bullying in Singapore and has taken great measures to curb the problem.
Even then, bullying is a huge cause for concern and parents need to be aware of it. In fact, the biggest danger is that in this day and age, bullying takes on many forms, some of which are less known and obvious.
The scary thing is that these less obvious forms of bullying may at times be the most dangerous and have caused students to become depressed and harbour suicidal thoughts.
Types of bullying in Singapore
There are different types of bullying, namely – physical, verbal and relational (social exclusion) bullying. The study asked students to report how frequently they were exposed to these six different types of bullying:
- Being left out
- Made fun of
- Getting threatened
- Property taken by other students
- Being hit or pushed around
- Having nasty rumours spread about them
The most common form of bullying in Singapore is students being made fun of by other students. 18.3% of the survey respondents said that they experienced this at least a a few times a month.
Cyber bullying in Singapore
The study did not explicitly mention anything about cyber bullying but this is the most recent and dangerous form of bullying that students experience. Online bullying in Singapore is more prevalent than in the real world.
A 2012 study by Microsoft showed that Singapore had the second highest rate of cyberbullying globally!
Cyber bullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology – includes devices such as cell phones, computers, tablets as well as social media sites, text messages, chat and websites.
Cyber bullying is scary for it gives students the ability to hide behind the veil of anonymity and do terrible things to their friends.
And the statistics for cyber bullying are rather alarming. In a cyber wellness survey done in 2013, 1 in 3 secondary school students said that they had been bullied in online while 1 in 4 admitted to having bullied their peers online.
1 in 5 primary school students have been taunted on social media platforms.
Examples of cyberbullying
Cyberbullying on social media typically occurs when the bullies post embarrassing and hurtful pictures or remarks of their victims. They then proceed to circulate it to as many people as possibly and torment their victims.
The worst part about cyberbullying is that unlike real-life bullying, the taunting is incessant with the chances of the content resurfacing online time and again.
Cyberbullying on What’s App is another worrying trend. Students have created many What’s App groups and use it as a platform for bullying. Here are some things that teachers have reported.
Students ‘gang up’ on the person they are bullying and torment them in What’s App chat groups. It goes on and on and they just don’t stop. Sometimes the victims play along or humour them so as not to appear as spoilsports or be labeled as loners. However, the after-effects are pretty devastating and only surface when it’s too late.
Some of the worst examples I have seen are of students starting certain chat groups with the sole purpose of gossiping and making fun of some of their friends. I have even found a chat group named Ugly, followed by the person’s name. When the victim came to learn about it, she was inconsolable.
Another worrisome trend is that of them circulating inappropriate pictures. Students as young as 10 or 11 years of age are starting to get into boy-girl relationships. They are rather bold and daring and land themselves in compromising situations. Their friends come across the pictures, or some of them are silly enough to share the pictures, then they use that to blackmail or post it online and then the situation gets really sticky!
Effects of Cyberbullying
Many students start to self-mutilate or even consider suicide. Students who are already at-risk, and have negative thoughts about themselves are in the worst situation for the negative remarks about them made online further reinforce these thoughts.
Students isolate themselves from shame and guilt. They withdraw into a world of their own and become reticent about their problems. this eventually leads to depression and depression can lead to suicide.
We have all heard stories of students in the United States (US) committing suicide due to extensive bullying. Just because you don’t hear of it hear, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.
In the recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of students committing suicide. People assume it is due to family problems or too much stress and the pressure to perform.
There have been cases of bullying in Singapore that led to suicide.
What can parents do?
- Communicate with your children, as often as possible. Make sure you always know what’s going on with them.
- Look out for changes in their behavior – if they look upset, don’t ignore it. Ask them what’s wrong and listen to whatever they tell you. Do also look out for what they do not tell you (non verbal clues)
- Try to know what’s going on their social media accounts.
- Know their friends, know your child’s relationship with their friends.
- If your child starts acting or behaving in a way that’s uncharacteristic of them, start investigating.
- Talk to teachers and take it seriously if the school is trying to warn you about something. Don’t get defensive or dismissive.
- Know your rights – the new harassment law passed in Parliament enables victims of cyberbullying to request for malicious content to be removed and can sue for civil damages.
- Singtel and Touch Cyber Wellness have launced a mobile app notAnoobie as a resource to parents to help parents to protect their children from online threats like bullying.
- If your child has been victimised by bullying and is depressed, seek professional help. This is extremely important.
There you go mums and dads. Do remember that bullying is something that we must take seriously. Do not hesitate to take action if your child is a victim of bullying.