By Teh Kean Hooi and Teoh Min Jieh
Many of us might have been bullied when we were in primary schools. In fact, the statistics released by UNICEF Malaysia showed that the figure was soaring as high as 80 per cent in 2015.
Do you know that most of these bullying cases took place in the classrooms? We may not think that way because schools are supposed to be a safe place for children to learn, play and grow.
The writers interviewed a certified play therapist Priscilla Ho, whose job role revolves around listening to the concerns of children and their family as well as helping them to make sense of all that is happening in their lives.
Ho has over 13 years of working experience in helping children with poor mental health.
She is very much involved in helping kids and teenagers who are facing bad and traumatic experiences due to bullying or family negligence.
According to the handbook “Be A Buddy, Not A Bully” prepared by Ho in 2016, she said the scope of bullying is not hard to define at all.
She wrote that bullying is a behaviour by an individual or a group, usually repeated over time, that intentionally causes harm to another individual either physically or emotionally.
In the interview, she repeatedly stressed that bullying is, indeed, a learned behaviour and it can be unlearned for sure.
“Bullies must be aware of the consequences as bullying is a crime and not some fun activities that they can carry out and say “Oops sorry, I’m not aware” at the end of it,” Ho said.
Besides, Ho rejected the idea of making fun of another person because the thought of the person who carried out the act is extremely important.
“If students continue to make fun of another, for example through their so-called ‘birthday pranks’, it may give them a sense of control over the other individual and this is part of a poor mental well-being as it feels good to belittle others and the action does not come to a stop,” she said.
When asked if she thinks bullying is a serious social issue in this era, she has a very staunch stand that it is very much so because lives are lost.
“No matter what form of bullying it might be, it is a serious act.
“Emotional pain is severe as the pain is not a physical one that will heal over time like bruises.
“Emotional pain will resurface again and again, making the victims feel hopeless, worthless and that they do not deserve to be in this society anymore, hence leaving them subjected to taking their own lives,” she said.
She added that the emotional pain resulting from cyber bullying would haunt the victims all the time as the act is announced to the whole world via social media postings and it shames the victim tremendously.
“I believe all of us know that serious mental health problems can lead to depression and some victims dare not leave their house because nowhere else is safe to them.
“For the bullies it may lead to serious mental health illness of wanting to hurt another and the ultimate consequence for them is to be put behind bars.
“The culture of bullying is not to be allowed anywhere.
“All of us have the responsibility to help the victims so none of us should keep quiet about it,” she urged.
If you are a bully, stop now as it is not too late; if you are a victim, seek help because no one is meant to be bullied; and if you are neither one of them, do your part and report any occurrence to the authorities.