Opinion by Angela Chong, former high school teacher
A cyberbullying case has been reported recently, involving four Macau teenage boys alleged to have circulated a girl’s photo on social media network, initiating ridicule and contempt on the victim. The boys are not charged as they are still below the age to be criminally responsible for the offence, but the case has already raised an alarm for greater attention to the problem of school bullying and to educating students on the proper use of social networking.
It is generally known that teenagers are easily influenced by people they get along with. Besides, they are lacking in an awareness about the concept of network safety and self-protection. If, among their relatives and friends, there are people who get involved in illegal acts of software downloading or in cyberbullying, they will also be tempted to do the same without realizing the consequences of such acts. What is worse is their lack of self-control in online behavior. If they fall victims to net crimes, they are likely to become cyber criminals themselves. It is, therefore, essential that net education be promoted at home and in school.
In some parts of the world, creative methods adherent to teenagers’ likings and ways of thinking are being adopted to nurture the correct core values concerning networking usage. The government is implementing public education with the use of animation and online games. In addition, strategies are introduced to deal with online pornography and violence as well as intellectual pirating. Moreover, parents and students also get involved in preventive measures against cybercrimes by providing the necessary support. One suggestion is for schools to plan educational activities such as talks, educational teams and court simulations aimed at the prevention of online crimes. It is also helpful to establish platforms for scholars and professionals to carry out information exchange, to conduct case studies and to take follow- up actions.
Nevertheless, education on network usage alone is not enough. In my opinion, what matters more is moral education on friendliness and respect. These are among the core values to be nurtured both at home and in school. Children who are used to being the center of attention tend to be selfish and egotistic. Enmity and conflict are likely to develop among them, often leading to school bullying. Conversely, one who is brought up in a loving family will, instead, learn to be thoughtful of others’ needs instead of constantly demanding attention to his own. In fact, school children who are friendly and respectful to one another will contribute to a harmonious school atmosphere, in which there is no room for school bullying.
One pathetic phenomenon worth our attention is that some students who are present at the scene of the offence choose to keep it to themselves either because of their cowardice or their selfish thought of sharing the “fun”. It is, in fact, significant for children to be educated on a sense of justice and integrity. If the witnesses are willing to stand up for justice and report the case to the school authority, the problem can be handled in time to prevent further damage to the victim.
All in all, school bullying and cyberbullying are serious problems that can lead to devastating results. Preventive measures should, therefore, be adopted before it is too late.