Archive for the ‘Behaviour / discipline management’ Category

Quit blaming, start treating

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017
Naval cadet Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain and T. Nhaveen’s senseless deaths have raised many questions, and the topic has been debated for a long time, but with no solution in sight. Pix by Zain Ahmed

THERE is just too much to stomach in this holy month of Ramadan. First, the death of naval cadet Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain , 21, from the Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM) who was brutally tortured by his college mates — just over a laptop; and second, the death of T. Nhaveen, 18, who was brutally assaulted by five youths.

Their senseless deaths have raised many questions, and it’s the topic that has been debated for a long time, but with no effective solution in sight. Bullying and gangsterism started ages ago. Who’s to blame for such deaths? Parents? Neglect? Our education system? The Internet?

The blame game should stop in order for us to start solving the problem. The problem has become quite rampant in recent years. These two incidents showed that our youth seemed to have lost all sense of compassion and humility. What has happened to our tagline, a caring society?

Let’s first examine some of the common causes of bullying. A bully is a person who purposely hurts others. Bullying is an unwanted, aggressive behaviour that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Those who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. The victim, especially, are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy.

As a rule of thumb, bullies come from dysfunctional families, although there are exceptions to the rule. Bullies don’t care how others feel. Some children either lack empathy or just relish seeing others in pain as in the case of the youths who bullied the late Nhaveen. A common reason that a kid is a bully is because he lacks attention from parents at home and lashes out at others for attention.

According to a former disciplinary teacher, the root cause of disciplinary problems is when students get involved with bad company. Influence of friends is a great factor.

Even more so when parents are too busy with work that they don’t have the time to monitor their children’s activities after school. Once the children start to mix with bad hats, they start to feel that they are superior. Being able to make other students obey them makes them feel great — as if they are heroes. Where does bullying occur most often? Those who had been bullied revealed that the most common place for bullying to occur was at the playground, and the less common to be bullied, in the classroom, while a handful said in corridors and hallways.

A study from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) found that most bullies have almost ridiculously high self-esteem. The same study showed bullies are often popular in school (for the wrong reason) and their victims are unpopular. This can make the pain of bullying even more brutal. Kids who push others around are often driven by the need for power. They enjoy being able to subdue others. These types of kids are typically impulsive and hot headed and they thrive when their victims cower in their presence.

It is not right to treat any human being or even animals in such an inhumane and barbaric act. All religions in this world teach us to be kind to people and animals. What were the six college mates thinking of when they did what they did to Zulfarhan? And, the alleged assault on Nhaveen, what triggered it? Whatever the reason, we cannot condone such a barbaric act. A lot of soul searching needs to be done here.

I feel our very own education system has failed in shaping our children into good and responsible adults. We lack subjects that teach students to be responsible, to have respect and to be kind to one another as human beings. There should be more subjects that teach moral values in the school curriculum starting from primary, secondary and right through the tertiary level. Such moral values must be imbued in children and repeated so that the values are deeply ingrained and they will remember them for the rest of their lives.

Schools should also have more task-based learning where students are required to work as a team to help others. For instance, kudos to Maktab Rendah Sains Mara Tun Ghaffar Baba Form Five students, who are involved in projects such as distributing food and cleaning kits to the homeless around the Masjid Jamek area while waiting for their SPM results early this year. Recently, the group has helped set up a library for the Rohingya refugees in Ampang. Such projects will help instill the spirit of helping people instead of bullying them.


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Empathy can prevent bullying

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

“DIDN’T they feel anything when they tortured my son?”

These were the words of the mother of National Defence University of Malaysia (UPNM) naval cadet Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain, 21, who died of injuries inflicted by his university mates earlier this month. For most of us, we ask ourselves the same question, too.

Lately, cases of bullying have been filling the news, beginning with an incident in a Mara Junior Science College, in which 10 students were expelled, until the death of T. Nhaveen last week, believed to have been viciously assaulted by his former schoolmates in Penang.

There is no actual set profile for a bully. Bullying can manifest in different ways and levels. There may be common characteristics, for instance, boys are usually more physical than girls.

It is also said that young people who have been the victim of bullying are more likely to become bullies themselves.

I remember one conversation I had with Joe, a friend who used to share stories of how he beat up other students when he was in secondary school. He was lucky not to land in hot water, but I was curious and asked him what was going on in his mind whenever that happened.

“Were you angry? Didn’t you feel bad? Were you encouraged by the friends you hanged out with?” Those were some of my questions.

As we all remember, splitting up children from friends because they are bad influence is a general gist of parental wisdom, and almost a peril of adolescence for many.

The friends we hang out with may determine our behaviour as teenagers. Keep the company of bad boys, and you will take a cue from them. Hang out with sensible friends, and your behaviour will be good.

Joe believed that since boys have loads of testosterone, that could be the cause of his aggressive adolescent behaviour.

He added that he could have picked up cues from his environment, thinking that he was just behaving “normally”.

He also agreed that he could have thrown his empathy out the window because he was so caught up and excited when beating up his friends.

Imagine if there is a cure for this meanness. Well, maybe there is, if bullying can be attributed to decline in a person’s empathy.

Empathy, in simple terms, is the ability to place oneself in another’s shoes, to feel another person’s suffering vicariously.

Many people see youths today (sometimes called “Generation Me) as one of the most self-centred, competitive, overconfident and individualistic lot compared with other generations.

There are a number of theories in relation to the lack of kindness and helpfulness among this generation, and towards them becoming less empathetic than ever — from media exposure to narcissistic personality and impulsive problems.

Somewhere, somehow, social and emotional skills are lacking.

Recent research from the University of Michigan in the United States found that college students today are less empathetic than their counterparts of the past 30 years.

These students are less likely to agree with statements like “I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective” and “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me.”

The study found the biggest drop in empathy after 2000 — with about 40 per cent lower than 20 or 30 years ago.

Although the study was conducted among Americans, it gave some ideas on the lack of empathy among young people. At the same time, research also shows that many bullies have low levels of empathy — those are key indicators.

When one does not develop empathy, one acts solely in pursuit of his or her own desires.

While this may be pleasurable, the lack of consciousness of others’ feelings is not good for society, and may make people more inclined to bully.

Belinda Parmar, creator of the world’s first global Empathy Index and also the author of The Empathy Era, said empathy is one important soft skill that most education systems miss.

While some subjects, like foreign languages, literature and the arts may foster empathy, these are not always seen as crucial.

She said we need to focus on empathy into our entire education system because by the time young people reach tertiary education, it might be too late to instil that value.

For children, the practice of looking people in the eye and creating conversation helps build empathy. However, the increased use of technology is not helpful.


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Use positive discipline to motivate good behaviour

Friday, June 16th, 2017
Evidence shows using physical punishment to teach children discipline is counterproductive.

LAST week, yet another case of alleged abuse inflicted by an adult to a child went viral on social media.

A video of a young child being allegedly beaten by an elderly woman had the nation shocked by the violence inflicted on the young child. This comes just two months after the death of Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gadaffi linked to alleged beatings he received in school inflicted with a rubber hose. These incidences are a stark reminder of how easily corporal punishment can be meted out as a form of punishment with disastrous consequences for the victims.

Many parents in Malaysia, as in other parts of the world, have themselves experienced caning, slapping, pinching, or even spanking and hitting as a child. Some grew up witnessing its regular use and, as a result, see corporal punishment as a normal, effective way to set boundaries, instil discipline and correct “bad behaviour”. According to global United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) data, around six in 10 children between the ages of 2 and 14 worldwide are subjected to physical punishment by their caregivers on a regular basis.

Sentiments justifying the use of corporal punishment runs deep; the general attitude amongst adults we have spoken to is:
“I was hit as a child and I turned out okay.” These were the same arguments that fuelled the debate in the 1980s in the United Kingdom leading up to the ban of its use in public schools by the British Parliament in 1986.

However, times change and widespread evidence tells us that using physical punishment to teach children discipline is counterproductive. Instead of teaching children good behaviour, punishment in the form of caning, spanking and humiliation has been found to cause psychological, behavioural and developmental problems.

In 2015, a Unicef research paper demonstrated that children who experienced corporal punishment had decreased math scores compared with those who had not experienced it.

The Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children published a working paper last year, which reviewed the impact and associations of corporal punishment on children. It found that children who had experienced corporal punishment were more likely to engage in bullying, lying, cheating, running away, truancy, and had increased involvement in crime. Rather than encouraging children to comply with rules and instructions, they are instead motivated not to get caught for their wrongdoings.

Children who are physically punished at home are twice as vulnerable to corporal punishment in schools because they are more likely to show behavioural problems and aggression at school. This makes them targets for corporal punishment in attempts to control and instil discipline. It results in a cycle of violence leading children to resolve issues through aggression rather than dialogue.

Undoubtedly, children need rules and discipline — and it can just as effectively be imparted without lifting a hand against a child. Banning corporal punishment does not mean that we leave a child to do whatever he or she pleases.

For those looking for concrete alternatives to corporal punishment, Unicef has developed handbooks with four principles of positive discipline in mind:

A DISCIPLINARY response must be relevant to the misbehaviour;

THE response must be proportional to the offence;

FOCUSED on correcting the behaviour rather than humiliating the child and aimed at rehabilitation rather than retribution; and,

THE discipline imposed must teach the child rather than focus on “paying back” on the offence.

Within the different principles, the caregiver, whether a parent, teacher or guardian, can then customise appropriate responses to suit the child and the context of their misbehaviour.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach. In some instances, the teacher or the parent could ask the child to think of what they have done and ask them to offer an oral apology. In some others, especially when the misbehaviour is persistent or detrimental to others, sanctions can be imposed and privileges can be withdrawn, such as limited television time. In the event in which the child causes damage to another person, the child can be asked to make a public apology or contribute to repairing the damage where feasible.


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Curb bullying, violence among students, teenagers – Lam Thye

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye

KUALA LUMPUR: Bullying and violence among students and teenagers should be kept in check as the culture is gaining a foothold in the local society, said Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) senior vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

He said that in general, hardly a day passed without some form of violence committed, be it at home, school or elsewhere.

Thus, the government, along with other stakeholders, must find the reasons why Malaysian  juveniles were behaving in this way and why  they were disobeying and not respecting the law, he said.

“I believe that we must tackle the ‘culture of violence’ which appears to me to be gaining a foothold in our educational institutions,” he said in a statement today.

Lee was commenting on the incident last Saturday when an 18-year-old boy was allegedly assaulted, sodomised and burned by a group of teenagers around midnight at a field in Jalan Kaki Bukit, Bukit Gelugor, Penang.

Lee said the incident happened less than two weeks after Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM) student Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain, 21, died at the Serdang Hospital on June 1 after he was allegedly assaulted by a group of university students in Serdang.

Lee also stressed that the government must intervene to help tackle the problem with support from all stakeholders, including parents, psychologists and non-governmental organisations.

Among others, he said, they should focus on the mental health aspect as it could also be one of the main reasons for such violence.

“More troubling, the problem also involves students as the ratio of those facing mental problems has increased from one in 10 people in 2011 to one in five individuals in 2016,” he said, adding that experts had cited anxiety and depression as the main causes of mental health problems among students.


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Good v evil in schools

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017
Children must be taught not only to get good grades, but to tell good from evil

THE holy month in the Islamic calendar is back again to the pleasure of Muslims around the globe.

For some, Ramadan is the month to purify their souls by doing as many good deeds as possible. Others look forward to putting on new Raya clothes.

Excitement is in the air as we count the days to Hari Raya and buying new clothes for children is high on parents’ list of priorities.

Last Sunday, Hafizah Said and her husband, Mohd Ryzal Abdul Razak, from Sanglang in Jerlun, Kedah, took their three children along for Raya shopping.

Their daughter, Nur Zarif Hamani, 6, was delighted with her new clothes.

In Johor Baru, Hawa Osman, 54, bought a baju raya for her son, Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnian, 21, a Malaysian National Defence University (UPNM) navy cadet.

Sadly, tragedy struck and the two families would not get to see Nur Zarif and Zulfarhan in their new outfits.

Nur Zarif drowned after falling into a canal in front of her home on the fourth day of Ramadan.

Two days later, the nation was stunned by the death of Zulfarhan, allegedly at the hands of bullies.

Reports claimed that the third-year student suffered from severe injuries. There were burn marks on his body, believed to be from having a steam iron pressed on his chest, hands and feet.

My heart sank as I wrote this.

I could not imagine the pain and agony felt by the families who lost their loved ones just before Raya.

While Nur Zarif died of a tragic circumstance, Zulfarhan’s is beyond comprehension.

Police have rounded up 36 students from UPNM and Universiti Tenaga Nasional in connection with the case.

Just two weeks earlier, 10 students aged between 15 and 16 from Mara Junior Science College (MRSM) Parit in Perak were expelled after they were found guilty of bullying six Form Two students.

While we are scrambling for answers that led to the horrifying physical abuses inflicted on Zulfarhan, I could not resist from asking this — have we raised a beast underneath our so-called bright students who study in reputable boarding schools and universities?

Aren’t such institutions for high achievers and future leaders?

What kind of bright students are we talking about if they cannot tell good from evil?

Are we, as parents and society, guilty of raising straight As students who are lacking in humanity

The stark reality is that scoring good grades is insufficient.

Some would argue that the perpetrators are young and deserve a second chance. But, what about the rights of the parents who lost their children to bullies?

Prevention is better than cure, but where should we begin?

Home is the best place to start, followed by schools and higher learning institutions.

Children who grow up as school bullies have the tendency to carry on with the act in the later stages of life.

Statistics by the Education Ministry revealed that there were more than 14,000 bullying cases in schools nationwide between 2012 and 2015.

Most of them involved physical bullying.

Early last year, findings by the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) reported in the Science Daily found that while many programmes to reduce bullying in primary and secondary schools were ineffective, a programme initiated in Finland called KiVA could be the answer.

“The study of more than 7,000 students in 77 elementary schools in Finland found that KiVA greatly benefited the mental health of sixth-graders who experienced the most bullying.

“It significantly improved their self-esteem and reduced depression,” the report said.

KiVA’s success is attributed to the role-playing exercises to increase empathy of bystanders and computer simulations that encourage students to think about how they would intervene to reduce bullying.


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Dealing with the bully

Sunday, May 28th, 2017
A posed picture of bullying. — File photo

A posed picture of bullying. — File photo

Don’t brush off bullying as a rite of passage or that children need to toughen up as everyone has a part to play against it.

A Form Five boy wanted to borrow a pair of football boots but his 15-yer-old junior said no.

That night, the same junior was brutally assaulted by 10 other boys in his dorm.

He was so badly beaten up that he was rushed to the hospital with a fractured left rib, injuries to the head, back and stomach as well as bruises to his chest.

According to reports, this scene took place at a residential school in Malaysia and it isn’t the first, nor is it likely to be the last

Kamalanathan encourages everyone to come forward and lodge a report with the authorities, even if bullying happens outside the school gates.

Kamalanathan encourages everyone to come forward and lodge a report with the authorities, even if bullying happens outside the school gates.

Now a police case, the scuffle took place when the Form Five students allegedly beat up six Form Two victims.

The 10 have since been expelled.

Despite the heavy campaigning by the Education Ministry and countless programmes by non-governmental organisations, bullying still continues to occur in schools.

Malaysian Psychological Association president Dr Goh Chee Leong believes that this is because an environment that doesn’t actively discourage bullying can, in fact, encourage this endemic problem to fester.

As an example, he says that “institutionalised bullying” still takes place in some schools through ragging.

“It is almost semi-encouraged through the prefects, senior students and hostel wardens to teach and ‘discipline’ the juniors,” he says.

Ragging in residential schools have been highlighted by the media when their juniors are forced by seniors to do, perform humiliating acts and endure insults as well as beatings for no apparent cause.

Dr Goh says that based on a Unicef study he was part of in 2007 and 2008, they discovered that bullying cases are not isolated incidences in any particular location.

“It’s usually done in a context where the environment is either actively encouraging or is complicit in the act,” says the HELP University Faculty of Behavioural Sciences dean.

This, he adds, is true in schools where teachers just brush aside students or parents who complain about bullying.

Noor Azimah says the solution lies in consistent psychological counselling and therapy for the bullies.

Noor Azimah says the solution lies in consistent psychological counselling and therapy for the bullies.

Phrases like “boys will be boys”, “solve it yourselves” and “rite of passage” are not uncommon.

On the reasons why bullying occurs, Dr Goh’s paper on the psychosocial impacts of violence and bullying on children, says that some victims of bullying harbour intense anger and bitterness towards bullies and the social cliques that condone and support bullying behaviour.

This anger, if unresolved, may lead to victims becoming bullies themselves with younger children, and are classified as bully-victims.

Unicef defines bullying as “aggressive behaviour that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power or strength.

“It occurs across all geographic, racial and socioeconomic boundaries.”

Malaysian Mental Health Association deputy president Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj says: “There is no such thing as being bullied ‘toughens up ‘ a child or subscribing to the common fallacy of ‘boys being boys.”

He says that if the school is serious about being a safe environment, there should be no compromise on bullying.

He adds that ragging, though common and on the pretext of bonding and the formation of lifelong friendships, should also be shown “zero tolerance.”

“Ultimately, parents must keep a close watch on their children and not depend on schools to ensure their child’s safety and psychological well being .

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim strongly agrees schools, especially school heads need to make a firm stand on the matter.

“Many (school heads) do not because school leaders are more concerned about grades and performance.

“A bully case made public is the last thing any principal wants. Schools prefer to see the victim discreetly transfer out of the school and the bullies merely given a warning as eventually they will grow up and leave the school,” she adds.

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Raja Zarith: All schools should have policies in place to protect kids.

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017
Raja Zarith (in pink scarf) at the launch of the TinDAK campaign.

Raja Zarith (in pink scarf) at the launch of the TinDAK campaign.

JOHOR BARU: All schools should have a child protection policy to ensure that children are aware of ways to protect them from sexual predators.

Johor Permaisuri Raja Zarith Sofia Sultan Idris Shah said this was important as it would act as a guideline at school level.

She said that the number of physical and sexual cases against children was worrying.

Raja Zarith added that most sexual crimes involving children were perpetrated by people known to them, including friends, neighbours and people they meet online.

Based on statistics from the Welfare Department, the number of child sexual victims for last year was 1,034 cases, 978 cases in 2015 and 984 in 2014.

Raja Zarith said everyone had a responsibility to safeguard children from being exploited.

She was speaking at the launch of the TinDAK campaign here Wednesday.

The campaign is a state-wide intervention campaign dedicated to the prevention of child sexual abuse, spearheaded by the Johor Women’s League (Jewel) with the support of the Johor Women’s Development Department.

The first phase of the programme involved a close collaboration between Jewel and the state education department.

From April 9 to 13, the TinDAK team travelled to all 11 education districts in the state to conduct training for school counsellors from 906 primary schools.

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To cane or not to cane

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017
The concepts of punishment and discipline are absolute opposites — punishment is said to be motivated by anger, whereas discipline is motivated by love.

CORPORAL punishment can be divinely mandated by some religions and is commonly practised in religious schools around the world.

This form of discipline is also reported in some Christian fundamentalist schools in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, despite the detrimental and long-lasting impact as revealed by research.

Similarly, it is not unusual for many to believe it is still an appropriate form of discipline for students at tahfiz (religious schools) in this country.

A high degree of discipline is required to educate and discipline these boys from tahfiz. While those who attend these schools focus on memorising the Quran, there are some parents who register their children in the hope of changing them for the better. These students usually enter the school with disciplinary problems from home that the schools have to deal with.

The death of 11-year-old Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gaddafi, allegedly beaten by a hostel warden at a tahfiz in Johor, has once again sparked the debate over whether corporal punishment is an appropriate form of discipline.

The administrators of the tahfiz, at which Thaqif attended for only 57 days, argued that the abuse was not what happened to him as he was not a child with problems. They further claimed that the school has more than 80 students who have been with them for a year and are more problematic in terms of discipline and conduct.

Given that corporal punishment is still such a common and controversial form of punishment, many heralded it as the best way to discipline children. For some parents, the practice of beating continues to be treated as normal as it should be in the name of “love”.

Norms relating to femininity mean that girls are inherently obedient, submissive and should not be hit. Boys, on the other hand, are supposed to be able to accept physical punishment and to withstand pain.

In our School Times issue on May 2, we asked teens what their take is on the proverb, “spare the rod, spoil the child”.

Interestingly, out of the eight teens who shared their opinions, the boys — all four of them — believed corporal punishment is a form of discipline to maintain obedience and control. One of them also said mischievous children who were not caned would grow up to become irresponsible adults.

There are opinions that proper philosophy and approach is extremely important in choosing to cane.

First, it is important to understand that the concepts of punishment and discipline are absolute opposites. Punishment is said to be motivated by anger, resulting in either compliance, which can be due to fear or rebellion, adding on to the feelings of shame, guilt and/or hostility. On the other hand, discipline is motivated by love for the child, focuses on the future, and results in obedience and feelings of security.

Second, a child should always receive a clear warning before any offence that might merit a caning and understand why he or she is to receive this disciplinary action. If he or she deliberately disobeys, the child should be informed of the upcoming caning and escorted to a private area. The caning should be lovingly administered in a clear and consistent manner. Later, the lesson should be gently reiterated so that the child understands and learns from this experience.

On another argument, caning is most effective as a deterrent to undesirable behaviour only for younger children. That is because reasoning and taking away privileges often simply don’t work with kids in that age range. Caning should be phased
out completely before adolescence.

However, many researchers concluded that there is no evidence that caning does any good for children and all evidence points to the risk of it doing harm.​

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund’s statistical analysis of violence against children published in 2014, 60 per cent of children around
the world receive some kind of physical punishment. Ironically, only a small percentage of children worldwide are protected by law. In many countries, it is still legal to hit this most vulnerable group adults are charged to protect.


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Activists speak out against caning in schools.

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Childline Malaysia honourary project director Datin Wong Poai Hong and activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi have spoken up against corporal punishment in Malaysian schools.

“Why do we have to punish children? Why can’t we sit down, talk and reason with them?” said Wong when discussing the issue on The Couch, a weekly Facebook Live talk show by R.AGE, following the death of 11-year-old Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gaddafi from alleged abuse at a private religious school in Johor.

“Children need to know they have a right to speak up. People say (corporal punishment) is part of our culture but culture can be changed,” she said.

Several viewers of the programme commented during the live Q&A that they were beaten as children, and they turned out fine, but Wong said that doesn’t mean all children will have the same experience.



“You may have turned out fine; you may have had certain support systems that other children may not have,” Wong said. “Many children these days are being brought up in daycare centres where they don’t have anyone to listen to them.”

Syed Azmi said that a ban on caning alone would not work, and suggested that teachers and parents need to be educated instead.

“Many parents do not understand the trauma of any form of abuse towards children, so we have to educate people,” he said. “But how long will this take?

by R.AGE
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Understand why schoolchildren join gangs, says analyst

Saturday, April 29th, 2017

(file pix) A screenshot from a viral video showing gang members, including secondary school students causing a commotion in front of a school in Klang. Pix courtesy of NST reader.

KUALA LUMPUR: Understanding why schoolchildren join triads is vital before any action is taken against them.

Crime analyst Kamal Affandi Hashim said students join such groups for the attention, recognition and presumed protection.

“Secret societies don’t advertise themselves publicly on the billboards. Yet, they are able to attract followers just like businesses, with their own marketers, agents, and recruiters.

“They do an aggressive campaign, targeting those of a certain age to join them. If we understand how they work, then we will be able to nab these ‘gatekeepers’ behind the recruitment,” he said.

Other than punishing the students, authorities, as well as teachers and parents, must have a two-way communication with them, said Kamal.

“We better begin to communicate with these students. This includes understanding their need and showing that we want to help.

“For instance, if these students don’t like to study, we must acknowledge this. Send them to vocational schools or music schools, if that’s what they like.

“The problem is when adults force the children to follow their demands. They are not listening to the need of the children.”

National Union of the Teaching Profession president Kamarolzaman Abd Razak suggested the Education Ministry set up a special programme similar to that of the National Service for students involved with gangs.

Kamarolzaman said the activities in the programme would include social service and a visit to a prison.

“Many of these children only hang out among themselves. We must send them to attend such programmes so they can mix with society. When they join the social service through such programmes, they will know how it feels to contribute to society. The programmes should include activities with enforcement agencies, too.


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