Friday, 25 September 2015

Shuqun Secondary School bullying incident

Creating a bully-free school a responsibility for all

Schools should be a safe and nurturing environment for all students. Unfortunately, the reality is that schools are also places where bullying episodes can take place.

While bullying is a social concern for many, most people do not know how to deal with it. At the Singapore Children's Society, we believe that the crux of a bully-free school environment lies in making anti-bullying a priority issue among students, parents, school personnel, educational authorities and the community at large.

It is especially pertinent that members of the entire school community are made aware of their roles and responsibilities in preventing or stopping bullying behaviour. We have been working towards this goal since 2004.

The Singapore Children's Society has been organising talks, workshops, group work and campaigns to help students identify bullying behaviour and understand its corresponding detrimental impact.

We also have various programmes designed to help victims, bullies and bystanders.

Bystanders can be protective figures and they can be empowered to discourage bullying in a safe manner.

In addition, we also conduct annual Bully-Free Ambassadors Training Camps, a public roadshow, forums, and training for teachers and parents.

To better understand the bullying phenomenon and develop more effective strategies to manage it, we have conducted a series of research studies and are continuing to do so.

In the light of the alleged bullying incident at Shuqun Secondary, the Singapore Children's Society has offered its services to the school ("Jurong school counselling students in bullying video"; Tuesday).

We would also like to spread the bully-free environment to all schools and would gladly work with the Ministry of Education to do so.

While we may not be able to totally obliterate bullying in schools, there is still much we can do to minimise its occurrence and reduce its impact on students.

More tips and information can be found on our microsite,

Ho Lai Yun (Professor)
Chairman, Research and Advocacy Standing Committee
Singapore Children's Society
ST Forum, 24 Sep 2015

Student filmed hitting classmates 'counselled', 'deeply regrets his actions': Shuqun Secondary
The Ministry of Education says it takes "a serious view of bullying in schools and does not condone such behaviour", after a Shuqun Secondary School student was filmed hitting two students repeatedly on the head.
Channel NewsAsia, 21 Sep 2015

Shuqun Secondary School has investigated a viral video which shows their male student hitting and slapping other students in class, and said that he has been counselled and "deeply regrets his actions".

In a video posted on the Facebook page of All Singapore Stuff on Monday (Sep 21) at 9.17am, a male student is seen hitting the head and face of another male student who was seated at his desk. Music can be heard playing the background and the victim did not react.

The alleged bully then took a book and hit the victim repeatedly on the head and did the same to another male student seated nearby. Both victims kept their heads down and did not retaliate.

All of the boys were wearing T-shirts that identified them as students of Shuqun Secondary School in Jurong.

Another male student is seen dancing on top of the teacher's table while this was happening. No teacher was seen in the video.

The clip has been watched more than 152,000 times as of 3pm on Monday.

JUST IN: Shuqun Secondary School confirms a teacher was in class when the bullying incident happened. "The subject...
Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Monday, September 21, 2015


When contacted by Channel NewAsia, Shuqun Secondary School said it "has investigated and is counselling the students involved". "What might first begin as playfulness could potentially end up hurting others. The student involved has been counselled and he deeply regrets his actions."

The school also said that it will "continue to work with the students involved on observing appropriate boundaries and behaviour in the future". The parents of the students involved have been informed of the actions taken by the school.

Shuqun Secondary added: "The school takes all incidents of bullying seriously and has anti-bullying programmes to educate our students and dedicated Character and Citizenship Education lessons to help our students deal with such incidents."

The school also confirmed that a teacher was present in class when the incident occurred. "The subject teacher was on childcare leave. There was an adjunct teacher in class when the incident happened last Friday. The school has since spoken to the teacher," Shuqun Secondary said.

In a statement, the Ministry of Education (MOE) also said that it takes "a serious view of bullying in schools and does not condone such behaviour".

"Schools will investigate and follow up on all cases of ill-discipline and bullying, and will provide counselling and guidance to the students involved," an MOE spokesperson added.

MOE and the school are aware of the video that has been circulating online. The school has investigated and is...
Posted by Ministry of Education, Singapore on Monday, September 21, 2015

Shuqun Sec School adjunct teacher was 'unaware of bullying'
He was trying to get student dancing on his table to get off, says victim's mother
By Calvin Yang, The Straits Times, 26 Sep 2015

The adjunct teacher who was in class during a bullying episode at Shuqun Secondary School was apparently unaware of the incident when it happened.

Instead, he was trying to get a student who was dancing on his table to get off, according to the mother of one of the bullied boys.

The mother, who would not give her name, was told that the adjunct teacher - described by her son as a "well-liked, elderly gentleman" - allowed the students to relax in class as it was a relief period.

The subject teacher who was supposed to take the class was on childcare leave.

"It is shocking that this happened when a teacher was in class," she told The Straits Times.

"As parents, when we send our kids to school, we hope for them to learn, and in a good environment, not with music blasting and students jumping on the table."

Shuqun Sec bullying case: The adjunct teacher, described as a "well-liked, elderly gentleman", was busy trying to get...
Posted by The Straits Times on Friday, September 25, 2015

The school's principal, Mr Chia Hai Siang, has since assured her that this incident is not the norm, and will not happen again.

A 52-second video clip posted online on Monday showed a boy from the school hitting two other boys on their heads repeatedly.

Both victims kept their heads low and did not retaliate. Another student was seen dancing on the teacher's table while loud music played in the background.

The mother, who is in her early 40s and works in administration, did not know her son was being bullied until the clip surfaced. But she noticed that her son had been going to school later than usual, just to avoid the bully.

She noted that the two victims had initially sought help from their teachers when they were first picked on by the same student months earlier.

On one occasion, her son approached a teacher for help when the bully started jabbing him with a pen repeatedly.

The teacher spoke to the bully about the incident, but it backfired. The bully then threatened the boy.

"Since then, my son has not flagged it to other teachers. He held back, as he feared the consequences," she explained. The bullying continued for five months.

During an hour-long meeting with the principal on Wednesday, the principal suggested transferring the bully, who is in the same Secondary 3 class as the two victims, to another class.

Besides asking the bully to apologise verbally and in writing, the school will arrange a meeting between the students involved.

Shuqun Secondary School has also taken disciplinary action against those who behaved inappropriately. Recognising the students' youth and remorse, Mr Chia noted that the school is counselling them to "ensure they learn and make amends".

The mother, who has a younger daughter in primary school, said her family is trying to move on from the incident.

"My son is mostly embarrassed by all that attention," she said, adding that he has not returned to school following the incident, but would do so next Monday.

"We know that the school teachers have done a good job in helping my son throughout these years. They are as upset and surprised to learn that he has been bullied for so long," she said.

"I hope that more can be done to empower these victims to speak up against bullying. He did not have to suffer in silence."

Schools have system in place to support safe learning

We thank the writers for their letters ("Pay heed to cyber bullying among youth" by Ms Teo Leng Lee ; last Friday and "Don't let 'get tough on bullying' be mere slogan" by Mr Ng Qi Siang; last Thursday, as well as "Untangling the issues underlying bullying" by Mr Leon Koh Wee Kiat, last Thursday, and "Empower teachers to better deal with bullying" by Ms Maria Loh Mun Foong, last Wednesday; both published in Forum Online).

The Ministry of Education (MOE) and our schools are committed to high standards of discipline.

We do not tolerate bullying in any form, and schools have in place a system and measures to support a safe, conducive learning environment.

Schools will take action to investigate all reported cases.

Appropriate disciplinary actions will be taken against students who commit the act of bullying.

Schools also help all students involved learn from the incident.

In cases where a student does not respond to remediation such as counselling, other disciplinary actions such as caning and suspension will be taken.

Schools will also inform and engage parents to get their support to counsel their children.

Teachers are equipped with relevant knowledge and skills through classroom management training where case studies and specific intervention strategies are discussed.

Such training is core in all teacher preparation programmes.

Teachers have the responsibility to maintain discipline in the classrooms and deal with bullying.

They are further supported by their heads of department, year heads, school leaders and school counsellors.

Students may from time to time make mistakes in the process of growing up.

Schools will teach, educate, discipline and counsel them with the goal of enabling them to learn from their mistakes, and support them as they strive to become better persons.

These students also need the support of parents and the community.

Our schools educate students on bullying through formal curriculum and school-based programmes.

Students are taught help-seeking skills, how to manage themselves and build good relationships with others.

Students are also taught that they have the responsibility as bystanders to speak up and support their peers who are bullied.

Despite the teachers' best efforts, not every case of bullying can be identified, and action can only be taken when the case is reported.

Parents can help by alerting the school when they notice something amiss in their child's behaviour at home.

On the bullying case in Shuqun Secondary School, the school has disciplined and counselled the students involved, met their parents, and spoken to the class to help all parties reconcile.

The boys need space away from the public glare to move on. The school and parents are working together to support them.

Low Khah Gek (Ms)
Deputy Director-General of Education (Schools) and Director of Schools
Ministry of Education
ST Forum, 28 Sep 2015

Mr Chia Hai Siang said the three boys involved in the "bullying incident" had become friends again the first day they returned to school.
Posted by The Straits Times on Friday, January 1, 2016

* Shuqun ex-principal slams online vitriol
Criticism of school and 'bully' in head-hitting incident unfair, irresponsible: Chia Hai Siang
By Chew Hui Min, The Straits Times, 2 Jan 2016

The former principal of Shuqun Secondary School, where a boy was filmed hitting the heads of two other boys repeatedly in a viral video last September, has spoken out against the online criticism of the school and the "bully".

In a lengthy Facebook post, Mr Chia Hai Siang, who headed the school from 2012 till the end of last year when he left the education service, said that many netizens had made "false accusations" and "derisory comments" without full knowledge of the facts, and this was unfair to the school, its staff, students and alumni.

In fact, one of his students said the way that the adults behaved online made the students afraid to go out in public in their uniforms after school and to participate in social media, he recounted.

She had asked: "How is this not bullying?"

"I had no answer for her," Mr Chia wrote in the post, which he hashtagged #howisthisnotbullying.

#howisthisnotbullyingDear friends,I was the principal of #shuqunsecondary from 2012 to 2015.From 1 Jan 2016, I...
Posted by Hai Siang Chia on Thursday, December 31, 2015

In his post, he shared a photo of the three boys taken on the first day they returned to school after the incident, and said that they had become friends again that day.

He wrote: "The 'bully' apologised in person and in writing to both victims and to the class. Both victims forgave him and they were friends again within two hours."

He added that the boy was dealt with according to school rules and all the parents involved were satisfied with the actions of the school.

In fact, two weeks after the incident, the mother of one of them withdrew a police report that she had made as she was satisfied with how the school had handled the incident, he wrote.

Both the victims also wrote to him to say that they felt sorry for their friend. The three boys and their classmates volunteered to bake brownies and make drinks for visitors during the school's open house in November, to help repair the damage caused to the school's reputation.

"I am very proud of them," Mr Chia wrote.

He said that he was not leaving because of the incident. He had decided to further his studies before the incident happened.

He then derided the "sensationalised" reporting of the incident, and said that he had not responded more actively to online reports because he did not want to encourage irresponsible reports.

Such reports might have fed some of the extreme online vitriol, he said.

"These included many threats by netizens, such as 'If I see the boy, I will bash his skull in', 'Let me give him a taste of his own medicine'... There were false accusations of gang connections and that the boy was a compulsive bully," he wrote.

The post has been shared more than 3,000 times since it was posted yesterday morning.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu shared the post and said: "Many thoughtful and heartfelt reflections worth our consideration. All of us users of social media have a responsibility to other users, in what we 'like' and share, and in our comments."

#teacherFrom a Principal @Hai Siang Chia whom I have worked closely over the last several years and grown to respect...
Posted by Grace Fu on Thursday, December 31, 2015

The story behind the Shuqun Secondary School bullying incident, as revealed by its outgoing principal.
Posted by on Friday, January 1, 2016

We thank Mr Chia Hai Siang for finally stepping forward with the details of the bullying case he declined to share with...
Posted by The Middle Ground on Friday, January 1, 2016

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