Published: 12:51, June 12, 2024
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Sensitive handling of complaints can end bullying on school campus
By Kang Bing

Central government departments have taken some strict measures to better protect minors after some recent media reports highlighted a number of bullying cases in schools. While we fully support these measures, we know a lot more needs to be done to make our children safe and worry free on school campuses.

Late last month, the Supreme People's Court released a number of cases involving minors, including a provincial court ruling on a knife attack by a frequently bullied student as "justifiable self-defense". A Hunan court ruled that the student was not criminally liable for injuring three of his classmates who used to bully him. On the other hand, the court punished those students who used to bully the boy.

READ MORE: Chinese schools required to specify punishments for bullies

The Supreme People's Court issued a guideline mandating courts at lower levels to declare bullying an offense in other child-related cases and promptly advice schools and training institutes to intervene in such cases, so as to end bullying on campus.

Besides, the Ministry of Education has issued a notice, requiring educational institutions to more effectively deal with campus violence, including bullying. The notice requires all schools to set up special commissions to identify campus bullying and punish those who bully others, as well as open hotlines and install complaint boxes to make it easy for students to report bullying cases.

The notice also requires all schools to install close circuit TV cameras in all corridors and platforms in order to better monitor students' behaviors, and hold class discussions and lectures to dissuade students from bullying their schoolmates.

These measures were taken after some serious campus bullying cases came to light last month. According to a media report, on May 15, outside the gate of a school in Baoji, Shaanxi province, a desperate father was heard shouting: "Where can I find justice when the school is doing nothing to prevent my son from being bullied on the campus?"

After learning that the school didn't take any action to protect his son from bullying, the father, who worked in a place more than 1,000 kilometers away, drove all the way back to the school to protest. The case drew wide public attention, prompting the local education bureau to step in and order a thorough investigation.

Moreover, on May 21, it was reported that a group of boys poured hot water on a student in a boarding school in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region after he refused to help them wash their dirty clothes. The victim suffered severe burns.

While the Supreme People's Court and the Ministry of Education were busy working out counter-bullying measures, a court in Henan province passed a ruling in a case about a school girl being stripped naked and beaten by some of her schoolmates — all minors — on May 30.

As school-going children, we rarely, if ever, complained about being bullied to our teachers or parents either because we took it as part of our school life or we felt ashamed to say that we could not stand up to a bully, or because we were afraid that the bully would exact revenge for being reported against.

ALSO READ: Top court backs bullied boy's right to self-defense

People's intolerance toward campus bullying today shows enhanced public awareness about human rights protection, especially about the protection of minors' rights. Bullying demands serious attention of the school authorities because it harms not only the physical health but also the mental health of minors.

While welcoming the government's strict measures to prevent bullying in schools, we, as members of society, have the responsibility of doing our bit to end bullying and make those who bully others as objects of condemnation. Parents should tell their children to stand up to bullies or complain against them to their teachers. And teachers, on their part, should take the complaints against bullying seriously and punish the bullies.

Only when parents teach their children to not hesitate to complain against bullying to their teachers, and the teachers take strict action against the bullies can campus bullying end. The children should be taught that it is not a shame to protect oneself.

The author is former deputy editor-in-chief of China Daily.