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Bad Influence And Living Environment Main Reasons Students Become Bullies - Counsellor

News Focus By Nur Aimidiyana Zuber

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- Students turn into bullies and cause disciplinary problems likely due to the bad influence of their friends and the environment they live in, according to a counsellor.

Rahmat Abdul Rahman, counsellor at Kolej Poly-Tech MARA's Ipoh branch campus, said these two factors contributed to students taking to bullying others.

Referring to the two video clips of students being bullied at their school hostels, which went viral on social media sites recently, he said such incidents have caused anxiety among many people, especially parents.

ENVIRONMENTAL FACTOR

According to Rahmat, bullying is rarely attributed to parental upbringing and neither are children born with the instinct to subdue others. He puts the blame entirely on external forces.

"For example, when youngsters watch television programmes depicting violence and gangsterism, they tend to imitate what they watch at their schools because at home they are constantly under the supervision of their parents or family members," he said.

He said young people were easily influenced, and being desirous of indulging in something new all the time, they invite their friends to join them as well.

The pressure to be part of the in-crowd is another factor why youths are easily drawn into using certain lingo or aping the behaviour and lifestyles of people who are supposedly "up-to-date".

"They (youths) are more inclined to hang out with their friends who share the same 'loafer' mentality. They usually go in search of victims to show off their 'greatness'," he said.

HARD TO PREDICT WHEN BULLIES WILL STRIKE NEXT

Some quarters felt that disciplinary problems brought about by students who behaved in a thuggish manner and beat up and bullied their physically weaker schoolmates were at a worrying level.

A former disciplinary teacher of a primary school in Tampin, Negeri Sembilan, Ahmad Fadli Pardon said it was difficult to predict the behaviour of students who had a history of disciplinary problems because they appeared to have a fixed strategy.

"Usually such students tend to be two-faced. When they are at home with their parents, they are at their best behaviour but at school, they become intimidating and end up bullying or beating up their juniors.

"Maybe back at home these bullies don't have the freedom to do what they want and feel trapped. And, this is possibly the reason why they unleash their inner desires when they are on their own," said Ahmad Fadli.

PARENTS WORRIED

Mother-of-five Hazlinda Hamzah, 49, claimed that while bullying was a common occurrence, schools deliberately kept them under wraps.

Hazlinda, who has three schoolgoing children and two in university, said it was the responsibility of the school authorities to keep an eye on their students and inform the parents concerned should their children be involved in bullying.

"It's more worrying when senior students fight with the juniors or bully them. Most bullying cases involve the seniors thrashing the juniors.

"And, it also appears that there are more cases of bullying at boys' hostels than at girls' hostels," said Hazlinda, who also agreed that the bad influence of their friends was one of the reasons some students became bullies.

JOINT RESPONSIBILITY

Who is responsible for stamping out bullying and gangsterism in schools?

Ahmad Fadli said more stringent supervision by school teachers and regular patrolling by hostel wardens aside, it all reverted to an individual's attitude, early upbringing and background.

He felt that exposure to religious and moral studies was the best way to mould the character of a person, and stressed that all parties should work together to address bullying and disciplinary problems in schools.

Associate Prof Dr Fadlan Mohd Othman, senior lecturer at the Department of al-Quran and al-Sunnah Studies at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Faculty of Islamic Studies, said Islam and other religions abhorred any form of injustice, including bullying, which can cause harm to others.

He opined that youths who bullied others lacked religious and moral guidance and were easily influenced by others.

"They (youths) regard their schooling days as the time to enjoy themselves and do whatever they think is right. They think they are great and macho and can do whatever they want for physical gratification," he said.

Urging youths to befriend only those who practised positive lifestyles, he said it would help build healthy friendships and enable them to develop respectable traits and characteristics.

Rahmat, meanwhile, is confident that hardcore bullies can be made to turn over a new leaf with the help of their parents who, he said, should monitor their children's activities and spend more time with them.

"Parents should make it a point to find out who their children's friends are. And, to ensure that their children are well supervised in school, parents should have good rapport with their school teachers," he added.

VICTIMS SHOULD LODGE POLICE REPORTS

Inspector Siti Fatimah Az Zahrah Sulaiman, who is attached to the Crime Investigations Department at the District Police Headquarters in Keningau, Sabah, said it has become a trend for youngsters to upload video clips of students getting bullied on social media sites like Facebook.

"They want to be popular and show off to the people around them...so with the help of sophisticated technology they race to be the first to post controversial stuff in the social media sphere," she said.

The presence of such "smart alecs" has made it easier for the police to nab those who uploaded the videos, thus facilitating their investigations and apprehending the culprits concerned, said Siti Fatimah.

She advised victims of bullying not to be afraid of making police reports as whatever action taken would be based on the law.

-- BERNAMA