Archive for the ‘Behaviour / discipline management’ Category

Another form of addiction

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

Dr Muhsin says bullies may be unable to regulate their own behaviour and subsequently become impulsive.

BULLYING can happen anywhere, from the home to social media platforms.

Part one looked at how bullying can happen to anyone, anywhere and anytime. It most likely happens in school, in the workplace, and a place one would least expect – home considered a “safe zone” by most people.

Creativity at Heart co-founder and child therapist Priscilla Ho says the main reason bullying happens at home, or anywhere, is because of messed-up family relationships and dynamics.

But what about in school and beyond the school compound such as cyberbullying?

Bullies are made, not born

As how some parents project expectations onto their offspring, children who may not know how to cope and deal with their emotions and frustrations, would project it onto fellow students.

“Most of the time, children who become bullies are experiencing hurt or bullying as well. Seeing someone else getting hurt is a release of their own pain and feelings, ” says Ho who often conducts anti-bullying workshops with children.

Bullying, she stresses, is a learned behaviour with the intent to harm repetitively when there is a power imbalance. It is also a choice a child makes.“Bullying happens and when a child chooses to take part in a particularly harmful activity and does not stop despite seeing that they are causing harm, ” she notes.

However, the root cause does not lie with the child who is only a product of his or her upbringing.

Ho says most of the time, children who become bullies are experiencing hurt or bullying as well.Ho says most of the time, children who become bullies are experiencing hurt or bullying as well.

“An increasing amount of research is showing that bullying behaviors are developed between toddler and preschool years and further ingrained into a child’s communication style as they continue to progress through primary to secondary school with the behavior unchecked, ” says Ho.

Noting that most bullies are completely unaware of how they are perceived (as a bully), Ho adds that most bullies also have low self-esteem.“The bullying behavior is typically fostered at a very young age. A difficult upbringing can result in low self-esteem, when coupled with aggressive behavior, can create a child who not only lacks communication skills, but feels the need to defend themselves constantly.

“It’s due to this that so many bullies are able to make peace with what they do. They see threats and insults everywhere they look, and in their eyes, everyone else is asking for it. They lash out as a defence mechanism, and then often seek out ‘weaker’ victims to bolster their own sense of superiority, ” she shares.

Universiti Malaya (UM) Department of Psychological Medicine Assoc Prof Dr Muhammad Muhsin Ahmad Zahari explains that a bully may be unable to self regulate their own behaviour and subsequently becomes impulsive, which can lead to physical bullying.

“Bullies want to subdue and dominate another person so they may have a sense of emotional relief after seeing victims suffer emotionally, ” says Dr Muhsin who is also Malaysian Psychiatric Association vice presidentEight in 10 kids face bullyingAccording to Unicef’s Children4Change Survey 2018, an astonishing eight out of 10 surveyed claimed they have encountered bullying in schools.

Administered both online and offline, the nationwide survey – which involved over 2,000 children below the age of 18 – was part of the Kindness Project by the Education Ministry, WOMEN:girls and Unicef.

The survey found that 70% of children had witnessed a peer being made fun of because of how they looked, dressed or walked.

It is also reported that bystanders would intervene by either asking the bully to stop (51%), approach a teacher (46%) or tell a friend (43%).

A total 27% of the respondents were victims of humiliating name calling.

Another 16% were victims of hurtful rumours. Others were bullied through digital platforms, purposely excluded or isolated from their peers, and even physically threatened or hurt.

It was noted that one in two children identified the classroom as a venue for such bullying incidents.

Older children are more likely to have been bullied online, with about a third of those aged 16 to 17, saying they have experienced cyber-bullying.

About 17% of the respondents called for a national anti-bullying law, anti-bullying school policies to be put in place and also educational school programmes to counter bullying.

The Children4Change Survey was carried out to better understand the children’s experiences of bullying from bystanders, victims and bullies’ standpoints, and to determine the types of intervention that children feel would create a safe environment that could protect them from bullying.

A form of addiction

Besides having an outlet to release feelings of hurt and frustration built up from elsewhere, bullies get a thrill out of asserting power.

The million ringgit question is, is bullying behaviour addictive? In Malaysian Mental Health Association president Prof Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj’s opinion, yes it is.

“In most cases, bullying can become addictive because gratification comes in the form of displaying such power, ” he says.Dr Andrew stresses that bullying is a primitive display of power that shouldn’t be tolerated.

Ho agrees saying that bullying becomes a bad habit of the bully so that he or she feels good after asserting power on another.

“They need to feel in charge of someone and to be in control of something. By having a say in someone else’s day, it helps them cope with not having a say in their own.

“If they’ve had a tumultuous upbringing with a lot of big changes that were completely out of their control, they might lash out and assert their dominance over others as a means of coping.

“Major changes and volatile circumstances can make a child feel vulnerable. Hence, they turn to others to victimise in an effort to protect themselves, ” explains Ho.

Dr Muhsin, however, opines that while the bully might have emotional distress and which can be relieved by watching others suffer, not all bullies get the thrill through their victims’ suffering.

“In fact, the most fearful bullies do not feel any sympathy with the victim, ” he says.Seeking out the bullied

When bullied, children may not be able to communicate their fears directly to adults.Instead, Dr Andrew says bullied children (in the primary school age group) usually show symptoms such as refusing to go to school, throwing tantrums and bed-wetting.

“However, symptoms might be more difficult to identify among older bullied children as they tend to be less forthcoming. One common indicator would be a sudden drop in academic performance, ” he says, adding that self-withdrawal is another symptom to look out for.

Noting that it is important for students themselves to identify that they are being bullied, Ho advises students to know their self-worth and be alert towards physical and non-physical “attacks”.

She says a direct physical punch on another student, verbal attacks such as name calling, and emotional attacks such as taking away one’s items (books, stationery); putting sand or waste into another’s drinking bottle; telling others not to “friend” a particular student; spreading rumours; hurtful messages on social media and in person, are all forms of bullying.

“Teachers should be able to identify victims of bullying as they tend to be isolated, keep to themselves, have no friends – which may result in the child halting school, ” says Ho.

Dr Muhsin says teachers and parents should look out for unusual behaviours as they could be indicators of being bullied.

“They may become more sensitive or socially withdrawn. The student might be secretive about the perpetrators as fear and anxiety may be predominant, ” he notes.

Pointing out that the long term effects of being bullied include higher risk of mental illnesses and affected emotional development, Dr Muhsin says victims are usually those who are emotional and would easily break down.

“Bullies would target those who are physically weaker (smaller in size, younger age); have learning disabilities, mental problems such as depression; cannot fit in with the majority of friends; and those with gender problems, among others, ” shares Dr Muhsin.

Pulling the plug on bullies

Bullies gain satisfaction from victims’ reactions, which would usually be sad and scared.

They are intent on upsetting or angering victims just for the sake of “taking away power”.

If you show them you are not sad and scared, they will often lose interest and the bully will lose their own power.

Dr Muhsin says avoiding the “wrong crowd” can limit bullying that could potentially happen.

“Do not mix with groups which show unhealthy relationship towards each other such as exclusion, name calling or physical violence, ” he says.

Another method to make a bully lose interest in the victim is to refrain from reacting emotionally – which could provoke the situation further – and getting the adults involved.

“Informing teachers and parents about what happened can enable can enable quick intervention to stop the bully from inflicting more harm onto others, ” says Dr Muhsin.

Dr Andrew says bullying can become addictive as gratification is in the form of displaying such power.Dr Andrew says bullying can become addictive as gratification is in the form of displaying such power.

Meanwhile, Dr Andrew believes that standing up to a bully and reporting the incident is the most definite way to make the bully lose interest in the victim.

“School children must be made to embrace the concept that bullying is ‘not cool’ and reporting it is the right thing to do, ” he says.

Schools, he adds, must adopt an anti bullying policy and students must be told of the consequences of their actions.

“This is particularly true of residential schools where being bullied (hazing) is taken as part of being toughened up in life. Unfortunately in Malaysia, school bullying has become a systemic problem, partly because of the principle of zero tolerance on bullying is not seen to be institutionalised.

“Adding to this challenge is the reality that bullying among school children has been taken out of the school compound – with cyberbullying among students from the same school, thereby creating a nexus between school bullying and cyberbullying, ” Dr Andrew points out.Ho suggests ignoring the bully and refraining from fighting back is the best way to lose the bully’s interest.

“If it doesn’t work, report to the teacher and also let parents know. Tell the bully face-to-face that I am not for bullying. Why not be friends instead?” says Ho.

By LEE CHONGHUI
Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2019/11/10/another-form-of-addiction#RRjs31QsjBXREuLB.99

NST Leader: We have to put bullies out of business

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019
Bullying in Malaysia is a serious problem with eight out of 10 having claimed they had encountered bullying in schools, a 2018 nationwide survey by the United Nations Children’s Fund showed. – FILE PIC

THE award of RM616,634.20 to a bully victim by the High Court in Kuala Terengganu on Sunday is unprecedented. That the victim became deaf in his right ear from injuries makes it even more pressing for anti-bully laws to be implemented, and soon.

Nine parties — including five former students, a student affairs senior assistant, former school principal, Education Ministry director-general and the Malaysian government — were ordered to pay exemplary and aggravated damages to the plaintiff.

Bullying in Malaysia is a serious problem with eight out of 10 having claimed they had encountered bullying in schools, a 2018 nationwide survey by the United Nations Children’s Fund showed.

The survey involved over 2,000 children below 18. It also revealed that 70 per cent of children said they had witnessed a peer being bullied.

Respondents called for a national anti-bullying law, anti-bullying school policies and programmes to counter bullying.

A sustained high-profile effort must be carried out to counter bullying because it is a social problem that never really goes away. It is an unwanted, aggressive behaviour among children or teenagers that involves a “real or perceived power imbalance”.

The behaviour is often repeated — both the victim and bully have serious, lasting problems.

Those bullied are often depressed and anxious, and suffer from sleep and eating disorders. Such symptoms may persist into adulthood, say psychologists.

Most random shooting cases in the United States in the 1990s were by shooters who had a history of being bullied.

Take the case of T. Nhaveen and navy cadet officer Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain, which received wide media coverage and was a topic on social media that went global with masses questioning the mental health of Malaysian society, especially our youth.

Nhaveen, 18, was viciously assaulted by several youths, which resulted in him becoming brain dead.

He never came out of his coma. Zulfarhan, meanwhile, was tortured by more than 10 students with a steam iron over a missing laptop. He died a few days later. Both cases were in 2017 and are ongoing.

Such senseless and horrific deaths. No decent human being should be made to suffer such a fate. This is the 21st century, not the middle ages. We are not barbarians.

Justice must be served and perpetrators must be made accountable.

The landmark decision should not only act as a deterrent to other bullies, but also a lesson — not only must the bully be held accountable for his actions, it is also the whole chain of actors who have allowed the deed to happen.

How much longer do we have to witness bullies “killing” innocent youths, asks a psychologist? The buck has to stop somewhere, he says, and adds that bullying happens because we allow it to happen.

He also says bullies have to be sent for rehabilitation and taught the value of human life. “Once they have served their time, they should be sent for psychiatric sessions. Victims too, need to undergo similar sessions,” he says.

It would be worthwhile to remember what Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu said — if one remained neutral or silent in unjust situations, then he has chosen to side with the oppressor.

Targeting teens

Saturday, August 24th, 2019

Some of the latest e-cig and vape devices are cheap, as small as your thumb and can even be worn as a watch. Tobacco control experts say awareness among parents and teachers are crucial in keeping this new addiction out of schools.

LET’S be clear – e-cigs and vape (ECV) are electronic drug delivery devices that can be used with the likes of meth and marijuana, warns Universiti Malaya Centre of Addiction Sciences (UMCAS) chief coordinator and the varsity’s Nicotine Addiction Research & Collaboration Group (NARCC) coordinator, Assoc Prof Dr Amer Siddiq Amer Nordin.

The smoking cessation specialist says there’s a chance that students using ECV will be exposed to other drugs.

“And it’s likely they’ll face the same problems – like poor grades – as students who smoke.”

Dr Amer Siddiq was commenting on findings published in the July edition of the Journal of Criminal Justice.

‘It’s all the rage! Exploring the nuances in the link between vaping and adolescent delinquency’ suggests that there may be something “criminogenic about vaping among adolescents”. But the strength of the relationship between vaping and delinquency depends on what is being vaped, with marijuana vaping being most heavily correlated with delinquency.

Dr Nur Amani@Natasha Ahmad Tajuddin, the lead of the NARCC smoking prevention programme in schools, says when the use of ECV is related to crimes like theft, violence, fighting, bullying, and running away from home, more effort is needed to curb the habit.

“Parents must realise that ECV has negative health, mental, economic and academic impact on youths.”

Young at risk

Four years ago, ECV use among students was less than 3% because the devices were too pricey for most teenagers, Assoc Prof Dr Anne Yee notes.

According to the Tobacco and E-cigarette Survey among Malaysian Adolescents 2016 (Tecma), a whopping 36.9% of students start on the devices between the ages of 14 and 15, and now, we’re seeing a spike in teenage use.

Easily passed-off as a smart watch, thumb drive or pen, the eye-catching devices look like the latest fashion accessories, says the addiction psychiatry expert and UMCAS member.

“Sellers are going all out to push the product to teens by making it cheaper and more accessible.

“Many even give it free to attract young customers. Drug pushers use the same tactic to get people hooked so that they keep coming back.”

These days, huge, eye-catching banners adorn night markets with traders openly displaying their wares. Clearly, the colourful e-liquid bottles with fancy names were designed for kids, teenagers and women, she says. These are groups that may never smoke yet we’re turning them into ECV users.

“If sellers are targeting adult smokers who want to quit, they wouldn’t need gimmicks. Why make such fancy designs?”

Dr Nur Amani says a recent study reported that 22% of children aged between 11 and 15 in England, use ECV compared to 18% who start smoking.

“This is because ECV ads are appealing. Here we have celebrities promoting ECV on social media to entice kids.”

Dr Amer Siddiq says more needs to be done to prevent a new generation of nicotine addicts from emerging.

“ECV isn’t safe. The devices could burn and the e-liquids could be adulterated.”

While studies have shown that children and adolescents see ECV as cool, pleasurable and fun to use, Dr Nur Amani says there’s a pattern of kids from lower socio-economic income groups being targeted by unscrupulous sellers.

Getting the girls

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan says teachers nationwide are noticing a rise in ECV use among girls.

“This is scary because with cigarettes, it was mostly just the boys. But these devices are popular among both boys and girls.”

Dr Yee is worried because nicotine is being touted as a way to lose weight. It’s like what drug pushers tell women about meth.

As it is, more young girls are experimenting with e-cigs as compared to cigarettes.

Cute cartoon packaging and fruity flavours are aimed at female non-smokers.

Society still has a negative perception of women who smoke. But with ECV, the message is that even ‘‘good girls’’ use it because it’s fashionable and can help you lose weight, adds Dr Yee.

In December last year, The Star highlighted how ECV and e-liquids were promoted as weight management aids.

“Even e-liquids that claim to be nicotine-free contain the drug. And you’ll never know for sure how much nicotine is inside. It could be equal to 20 cigarettes.

“A nicotine high lasts for less than two hours before the craving starts. So getting youngsters hooked on ECV is a business tactic, ” explains Dr Yee.

If your kids are turning to cigarettes, ECV or drugs, it could be because they’re bored or have no one to turn to, she says, adding that children who feel a sense of belonging in the family don’t need these harmful distractions.

Easily addicted

Dr Yee says teenagers are much more susceptible to addiction compared to adults. Some even start to have nicotine cravings after just one try.

“The teenage brain has yet to mature. That’s why adolescents are more impulsive, emotional and susceptible to advertisements aimed at influencing their behaviour.”

Parents whose children are already smoking aren’t helping by getting them an ECV. While it’s better than a tobacco cigarette, ECV is harmful for non-smokers.

When inhaled, tiny chemical particles in the e-liquids can enter the bloodstream and cause long-term harm.

Those between the ages of 10 and 18, adds Dr Nur Amani, are especially vulnerable to addiction.

The medical doctor says e-liquids contain toxic materials like lead, arsenic, manganese and chromium. Exposure to even small amounts can worsen symptoms of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

ECV use among varsity students is also worrying, says Dr Amer Siddiq, who was among the researches behind The use of e-cigarettes among university students in Malaysia journal paper published in December.

The study, funded by the Education Ministry, involved 1, 302 students in six Malaysian varsities.

“Over 40% of students smoke and use ECV. This means that ECV has not helped them quit smoking, ” he says, adding that some users even experienced adverse effects like dizziness, coughs and headaches.

Anti-vape campaign

The Education Ministry recently announced that it would intensify awareness campaigns after claims of ECV being freely distributed among students, and photos of youths vaping, went viral.

Calling on parents and society to stop students from bringing the devices to schools, the ministry’s director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin notes that ECV has become the norm these days – becoming more sophisticated and difficult to distinguish from other electronic gadgets.

Welcoming the ministry’s move, Dr Nur Amani feels it’s important to get tobacco cessation experts onboard to work with teachers.

More awareness campaigns need to be conducted by health scientists, educationists, politicians and non-governmental organisations, to show that ECV use is not “normal behaviour”.

Group activities, instead of talks, work better to impart knowledge. And, it’s more sustainable.

“The children themselves can then act as ‘peer experts’. The impact is greater when the message is shared by those of the same age group.”

Campaigns can be effective if we target parents and teachers, says Dr Yee.

With children and adolescents, the more you say no, the more they will want to try it, she says, adding that parents shouldn’t over-react if they find their child smoking, using ECV or taking drugs.

“It’s not the end of the world. Be an ally to your children instead of acting like the police.”

She suggests talking to children about the dangers out there instead of sweeping things under the carpet.

“Make them realise that sellers only want to make money by getting youths hooked on an addictive habit whether it’s nicotine or drugs.”

The Health and Education Ministries are already working together on the Kotak (Kesihatan Oral Tanpa Asap Rokok) programme to highlight the harms of cigarettes and its related products, says Dr Amer Siddiq.

But with the introduction of newer ECV models, there’s a need to raise awareness among the adults.

Citing some pod-and-USB-like devices as examples, he says these have very high nicotine content but most parents and teachers don’t know about them.

Recently, children were mimicking vaping because of what they see on social media, Dr Amer Siddiq says in reference to the crackdown on Ghost Smoke – a candy consumed by sucking on a straw to produce a vapour-like effect.

“The Kotak programme must be enhanced to cover ECV and its dangers especially the impact on young developing brains.”

NUTP’s Tan says most teachers are in a cocoon when it comes to ECV.

“We need to expose teachers to this new threat so that they know what to look out for.

“And teachers must be given more authority. Since we cannot cane and are vulnerable to lawsuits, we want legislation that compels parents of problematic students to come to school and be responsible for their kids’ behaviour.”

UM, says Dr Nur Amani, has been conducting educational and advocacy programmes in schools through its No-Cotine Club and Community and Sustainability Centre (UMCARES).

Trained students go to colleges and schools to carry out activities that de-normalise smoking and vaping, she says.

“Soon we’ll be approaching 80 partner schools to tell our children that EVC is not just ‘evaporated water’.

“The effects are harmful and it’s haram for Muslims. Hopefully when they go home, they’ll share the message with their parents.”

Smoking and IR 4.0

ECV will be among the hot topics at the upcoming KL Nicotine Addiction International Conference (KLNAC) 2020, says its organising chairman Dr Amer Siddiq.

As the country moves towards realising the National Strategic Plan to make Malaysia smoke-free by 2045, it’s crucial to look at all forms of technology that can prevent the uptake of cigarettes, he says.

“We’ve decided on the theme ‘Mission IR 4.0: Redesign Tobacco Control’ because of the emergence of various disruptive technologies that can either assist quitting, prevent youths from starting the habit, or attract people to smoking.

“ECV was initially touted as a way to help smokers quit but we’ve seen how Juul has ended up enticing youths to take it up instead.”

UM, he says, is already using data and technology in its tobacco control efforts.

The varsity’s dental group is working on an app for school children to prevent initiation to smoking.

And, Dr Yee is collecting data to match smokers with cessation apps that are right for them.

“We’ve thousands of smoking cessation apps yet the success rate is only 25%. Each app caters to specific personalities so we’re trying to match smokers with apps that cater to their preferences. This will ensure a higher success rate.”

By CHRISTINA CHIN.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2019/08/18/targeting-teens

Sabah Education Dept: Use of ‘ghost smoke’ candy not observed beyond Papar district.

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Education Department says they have not received reports of the ‘ghost smoke’ candy being consumed beyond the Papar district.

Its director Mistirine Radin said reports of the candy being consumed had so far only come from Papar.

“We have yet to hear of similar incidents in other districts,” she said.

She said they were investigating the matter and had not received any statement from the Education Ministry over the issue.

“The Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) of a school in Papar lodged a report after they saw pupils allegedly taking the ‘ghost smoke’ candy,” said Mistirine.

She said the PTA reported the issue to the Papar Health Office and they subsequently informed the Papar Education Department office to issue letters to schools in the district warning them about the matter.

The consumption of the ‘ghost smoke’ candy is alarming to parents as they are unsure what ingredients are used to create the smoking effect and whether consuming the candies is harmful

By Stephanie Lee

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/07/22/use-of-ghost-smoke-candy-not-observed-beyond-papar-district/#jZS6hHEZ0FewgLfH.99

Lam Thye calls for task force to address school bullying

Sunday, July 21st, 2019
Social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye says a special task force should be set up to look into the problem of bullying in schools. — NSTP/RAMDZAN MASIAM

GEORGE TOWN: Social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye says a special task force should be set up to look into the problem of bullying in schools.

He said the rise in bullying cases of late warranted action on the part of the Education Ministry.

He said video footage that had gone viral recently showed that such “acts of violence” were not confined to boys, but involved girls as well.

“This is a serious matter which warrants the ministry to do a thorough study into the causes of these acts of bullying that are on the increase in schools today.

“Is it due to lack of discipline among students or external factors, such as what they see on the outside, including television, that are influencing them?

“Or could it be due to stress among students?

“As I said, all this needs very thorough studying.

“I am sure that the ministry is able to get the experts.

“The Parent Teacher Associations must also be involved because their children may be the victims or the perpetrators,” he said at a motivation camp for UPSR students organised by the Eco World Foundation, here, today.

Lee, who is the chairman of the foundation, said schools were not only for educating students to be good academically. He said character development was equally important.

“The inculcation of noble values are also in schools where students are taught noble values… but to what extent are students putting it into practice? I think these things are very important.”

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) recently issued a stern warning to the public not to spread video footage of a student being bullied as it had the potential to fuel racial sentiment.

Lee said Eco World Foundation was committed to helping students under its Student Aid Programme (SAP) despite funding challenges in the current uncertain economic situation.

By Audrey Dermawan.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2019/07/506066/lam-thye-calls-task-force-address-school-bullying

Student Kindness Ambassadors take the lead to prevent bullying in their schools.

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

Newly appointed student and teacher ambassadors take their first groupshot together at Kelantan Education Technology Division Center of Excellence with (from middle left) Alexius and Roznita.

Newly appointed student and teacher ambassadors take their first groupshot together at Kelantan Education Technology Division Center of Excellence with (from middle left) Alexius and Roznita.

KELANTAN: The #StandTogether National Kindness Tour inspired the students from the east coast to embrace kindness in their mission to prevent bullying in their schools.

The goal of the tour is to create student and teacher kindness ambassadors to act as leaders in their school and share the information obtained from the Kindness Tour Workshops with their peers.

“I am very excited to be a kindness ambassador,” said student Murni Irsaliza Mohamad Zain, 16, from SM Sains Sultan Mahmud.

“The information I learned today is new and very necessary for my school, and I want to see more of these workshops in Malaysia.”

Murni shared that she noticed the youth of her generation have gotten normalised to behaviors which she discovered after the workshop, is bullying.

The tour is organized by Digi as a part of the #StandTogether National Kindness Week Campaign with main sponsors and partners SP Setia,Star Media Group Berhad and Unicef Malaysia. The #StandTogether Campaign aims to prevent bullying in schools using by using kindness.

Kelantan State Education Department Guidance and Counselling Officer Mohd Shamsul Nazari Isa believes the knowledge provided during the tours equipped both teachers and students to identify and deal with bullying in school in the long term.

“I believe the kindness ambassadors will be good role models for their peers- judging by their reactions, they will definitely go back to school and also share their knowledge with their friends who will be affected.” said Mohd Shamsul.

The second leg of the #StandTogether Kindness Tour kicked off on Wednesday last week in Kuantan and has since reached Terengganu and Kelantan and created 366 new Student Kindness Ambassadors, bringing the total amount of teacher and student ambassadors to over 2,000.

SMK Sungai Soi student, Mimi Hafiza Dzureena Md Dom took her new role to heart and believes that there is a lot that needs to be done to change the perception of her peers towards lesser known aspects of bullying, such as social bullying.

“I don’t just want to be known as a Kindness Ambassador, I want to be an effective one- So when I go back to school, I will go back and propose to run a bullying prevention program in my school,” said the 16-year-old student.

“Through this workshop I learned how to deal with mental bullying, how to help those who are bullied and how to encourage kindness in my peers- kindness doesn’t end because when you are kind to someone, it motivates those people to be kind to others and it will spread.”

The emphasis on kindness in the campaign is a relatively unique concept in Malaysia, International Medical University Senior Lecturer and workshop trainer Alexius Cheang quipped that he has noticed a lot of people are initially sceptical of the concept.

“When you first hear it, it might sound silly but the research that I have read shows that using kindness a more effective way to prevent bullying is to increase focus on the positive instead of the negative, if we do this, eventually we will be able to counter the bad,” said Cheang.

By Myrra Baity

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/07/02/student-kindness-ambassadors-take-the-lead-to-prevent-bullying-in-their-schools/#aSxgGCCHt6O5UQRk.99

NST Leader: Taking a new approach

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019
Despite the punitive measures to curtail drug distribution, drug seizures by enforcement authorities are almost a daily occurrence. (NSTP/IQMAL HAQIM ROSMAN)

MALAYSIA has been battling the drug menace for the longest time with punitive measures to curtail drug distribution and programmes to improve treatment of drug users.

While these showed varying degrees of success, the number of drug users, addicts and drug-related offenders continues to rise. Drug seizures by police are almost a daily occurrence.

Furthermore, records from the National Anti-Drugs Agency show that last year there were some 160,000 drug users and they still made up the majority of the prison population.

In February, police said the trend in drug abuse had changed from plant-based drugs (marijuana and heroin) to more harmful synthetic drugs (syabu and ecstasy).

Additionally, the emergence of psychoactive drugs is giving a new dimension to the problem.

Police are saying the drug menace has reached a new level. Such accounts do not paint a pretty picture of a country that aspires to join the league of developed nations.

Have we been doing it wrong all this while? It’s time, perhaps, to experiment with a different approach; decriminalise drug users, turn it into a public health issue, but go after the criminals — the kingpins — who supply and distribute the drugs. Drugs is big business.

A report by Global Financial Integrity (GFI) says the global market in drug trafficking has an estimated annual value of between US$426 billion (RM1.7 trillion) and US$652 billion.

Malaysia’s transformation into a modern and globalised society has necessitated a review of the current approach and strategy to the drug problem. But before we go down that path, studies need to be done to get a clearer picture of the problem in the current social context

Why the need for drugs?

Some do it because of peer pressure, a broken family, wanting to experience a new “high”, or to keep up with the Joneses. Others get addicted after taking prescription pain medication and developing a dependence on the very medication intended to help them.

Drug addiction is a substance use disorder, a disease, say some doctors. It is a public health issue, not a criminal justice one. And it should be tackled as such. But, how do we provide an enabling environment for proper care and treatment to reach drug users?

Amend drug laws and policies?

Consider Portugal, which has decriminalised all drugs since 2001; reportedly, there has been dramatic drops in overdoses, HIV infection and drug-related crime.

Portugal’s success, however, could not have happened without an enormous cultural shift, and a change in how the country viewed drugs, addiction, and itself.

For Malaysia to do the same it must be willing to make that “transformation”. It has been said that drugs have the potential to wipe out entire civilisations. And that is why the war against it must go on.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/leaders/2019/04/479228/nst-leader-taking-new-approach

Cops in school to maintain discipline

Friday, January 4th, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: On the first day of school yesterday, pupils of Sekolah Menengah (SM) Maktab Sabah weren’t just greeted by teachers, but police officers, too.

The Kota Kinabalu city police’s ‘Back To School’ programme launched at the school is aimed at preventing discipline problems.

City police chief, ACP Habibi Majinji, said 54 senior police officers and 112 lower-ranking police officers will be stationed at 27 secondary schools and 56 primary schools respectively as school communications officers (PPS).

“Last year, there were seven reports connected with student discipline. This year we hope there won’t be any,” said Habibi.

SM Maktab Sabah principal, Nuinda Alias, said the programme will motivate students to behave well.

Meanwhile, a total of 462,052 students commence their school session for this year at 1,074 primary and 222 secondary schools in Sabah yesterday.

State education director Mistirine Radin said from the total, 32,264 were Year One pupils while 45,883 students were in Form One.

“Another 2,387 primary school pupils are attending the Integrated Special Education Programme (PPKI) while 2,273 are in such secondary schools,” she said when contacted by Bernama.

She added that so far all schools are operating smoothly with monitoring by department officers as well as district education officers.

BERNAMA.

Rwad more @ http://www.newsabahtimes.com.my/nstweb/fullstory/28544

Everyone has a role to play in preventing bullying

Sunday, July 29th, 2018

A FEW days ago, a friend shared a 42-second clip of three teens in school uniform brutally beating up another student.

While many such clips are being shared on social media every day, the situation is not just becoming more frequent, but also tragic.

Bullying is a serious matter. It should neither be condoned nor brushed off as something that people have to bear with.

It does not only affect our sense of self-worth, but also our relationships.

It may start with name-calling, teasing and inappropriate sexual comments. It usually degenerates into something more menacing. In severe cases, bullying can lead to suicides, arson and school shootings.

The trend now is cyberbullying.

It has graduated from email and text bullying.

Admittedly, the solutions to bullying are not simple.

Parents, students, administrators, teachers, bus drivers, nurses, canteen operators, office staff and other members of the school community have a role to play.

We can adopt some strategies to prevent bullying, such as:

CREATING a culture of respect;

NOT being a bystander;

KEEPING the lines of communication open;

ENCOURAGING children not to engage in such activities;

MONITORING children’s online activities; and,

MODELLING love and respect for children to follow.

By DR IDRIS ADEWALE AHMED

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2018/07/395600/everyone-has-role-play-preventing-bullying

Arrest social ill before it is too late

Saturday, July 7th, 2018
Mat Rempit are a major problem in the cities. FILE

THE Mat Rempit menace is a social disease. It is so rampant that filmmakers make movies about these people. Some leaders even promoted this delinquent behaviour by building race tracks for them.

The government must be advised that the usual Malaysian malaise towards this has not worked and will not work in the future.

Mat Rempit used to occupy byways to cause havoc and mayhem in kampung, but now they have graduated to highways.

Just before the Hari Raya Aidilfitri holidays, I saw a group of them racing in the fast lane on the North-South Expressway. They were committing transgressions, oblivious to the danger they were causing to themselves and other road users.

I am sure the police are aware of this, but they have either given up or are not up to it.

Perhaps the new government can give birth to a “New Malaysia” by getting rid of these young miscreants.

There are three approaches that need to be taken. Mat Rempit are a threat to themselves, to others and the nation. Therefore, solutions to the Mat Rempit problem need to take this three-pronged approach

Firstly, the Mat Rempit are a danger to themselves. One must find out why this is so. The theory is that these miscreants come from broken homes. If so, the government needs to arrest the problems that lead to broken homes.

The Mat Rempit menace needs to be tackled at the source and at an early stage. Otherwise, it will spiral into a crisis. Today, children as young as 10 display delinquent behaviour in public.

Peer pressure, too, is a critical factor. Teenagers and young adults are susceptible to peer influence in their attitude and action.

A 2006 research by the police showed that most of the Mat and Minah Rempit were aged between 16 and 25. First, they watch; then, they follow; and finally, they teach this delinquent behaviour to others. This vicious cycle must be broken if we are serious about putting an end to the menace.

Mat Rempit are not just a problem in the cities, they are a menace to kampung folk too. Many cases of Mat Rempit riding into crowds had been reported over the years.

To an extent, the Mat Rempit problem continues to exist because they are allowed to gather in large numbers.

Some form of anti-social behaviour law or amendment to illegal assembly law is needed.

By Z.I.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2018/07/388270/arrest-social-ill-it-too-late