Archive for the ‘Behaviour / discipline management’ Category

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.

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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.


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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.


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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.

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Create culture of respect to fight bullying

Sunday, April 1st, 2018
Twenty-three students from a Terengganu vocational school pleaded guilty to injuring three fellow students in a bullying incident last year. FILE PIC
A few days back, a friend shared a gruesome 42-second clip of three school-going teens in uniform bullying another student.

Such incidents are not only frequent but are also turning into tragedies.

Bullying should neither be condoned nor brushed off as something that people have to bear with.

It does not only affect the victim’s self-worth, but also his future relationships.

Bullying may start with name-calling, teasing and sexual comments, before degenerating into physical action, and sometimes ending in fatalities.

When does an act turn into bullying? The use of strength or power to harm, intimidate, assault or harass others, verbally or physically, constitutes bullying.

It can happen to anyone irrespective of race, sex or position — whether at home, school, workplace, on the street, playground or online.

Road bullying is also frequent. I see it almost every time I drive in cities.

As for bullying at schools, one estimate says 80 per cent of pupils have been bullied

My son complained about being bullied until I put him in another school.

There are many reasons for falling prey to bullies.

One of these is being different from what is considered by the bullies as the norm.

For example, students who are considered fat are bullied.

Sexual orientation and ethnicity are also contributing factors

Research indicates that if bullying persists, the victim will become isolated and depressed, and this may lead to mental disorders and suicidal tendencies.

It is not going to be easy to stop bullying.

Nevertheless, we can adopt strategies to prevent bullying:

CREATE a culture of respect;

STOP being a bystander;

KEEP the lines of communication open;

PARENTS must teach their children to respect others;

PARENTS must monitor their children’s activities; and,

PARENTS should teach their children not to be bystanders.


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Dealing with bullying the right way

Sunday, March 25th, 2018
The students and teachers of SK Kota Dalam in Johor pledge to prevent bullying in their school. Find out how to join them by going on to

The students and teachers of SK Kota Dalam in Johor pledge to prevent bullying in their school. Find out how to join them by going on to

When handling bullying situations, there are some basic dos and don’ts everybody needs to know.

WHILE it’s the community’s responsibility to step in when witnessing a bully intimidating a victim, to blunder in could make everything worse.

Bullying situations can get highly emotional – and that means victims, bystanders, teachers and parents alike need to know how to handle it with sensitivity and tact.

Unicef recommends the following steps to successfully diffuse bullying situations:

If you’re the one being bullied, tell the bully to stop and walk away. Remember, you are not doing anything wrong – you have the right to feel safe and secure at all times.

Tell a trusted adult. This can be anyone you feel comfortable talking to. If talking face to face is difficult for you, you can also write down what happened and pass it to that adult. Even if you believe you have successfully dealt with it on your own, make sure an adult is aware. They have the power to permanently end the bullying, but they first need to be aware that the bullying exists.

If you’re a bystander, speak up. Tell an adult or teacher. Remember, reporting a bully is the right thing to do, even if the bully is your friend. The bully might be having personal issues of his or her own, and reporting the incident could result in your friend getting the help he or she needs, as well as ending the aggression.


Listen and try to get the whole story out of the student, but don’t interrogate him or her. The student shouldn’t end up feeling attacked – it already took a great deal of courage to report the situation.

Make sure the victim/whistleblower understands that the school is on their side, and will take appropriate action.

When addressing the bully, avoid being overly negative and blaming them for their actions. Rather, try to focus on the bully’s positive characteristics – bullies sometimes act out as a result of emotional hurt. Reinforcing their positive characteristics can help to alleviate their pain and help them refocus onto something positive.

However, a severe case means teachers must firmly reinforce the school’s policy on bully prevention, in order to protect the victim. While teachers should be kind, bullies must still learn that their actions have consequences.


It requires a lot of courage for a child to tell you he or she has been bullied, so don’t demand to know why they didn’t defend themselves, or encourage them to physically fight back.

Instead, discuss ways they can respond, like walking away, using humour to discourage the bully, or taking firm action and saying “Stop that.”

Try not to interrogate your child about the incident. Instead, listen actively and assure your child that it’s the bully who is at fault, not your child. Don’t tell them not to worry, because it can seem dismissive and discourage your child from confiding in you aagain.

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Fighting bullies with empathy

Monday, February 5th, 2018
It is a noble idea to have programmes to create awareness about the effects of bullying, one must understand why empathy, a basis for caring, is essential in life. FILE PIC

LAST year, several articles were written on bullying, especially on how to stop bullying through prevention campaigns. While it is a noble idea to have programmes to create awareness about the effects of bullying, one must understand why empathy, a basis for caring, is essential in life.

Let us begin by educating people on developing empathy before caring for others.

According to American psychologist Martin Hoffman, empathy is congruent with caring.

As empathy helps in the development of prosocial behaviour in a child, it plays a crucial role in the development of altruistic concern or caring for others. Children with problematic behaviour will benefit from this because empathy reduces hostility and aggressiveness.

So, when does one develop empathy? Does it exist when we are born or develop as we grow up? Researchers argue that empathy is innate and needs to be developed.

Hoffman said there are five empathy-arousing modes. Three of them are primitive, automatic and involuntary, which are important for rousing empathy, while the other two are more cognitive-based. These five empathy modes progress according to age.

When a child is born, the first empathy-arousing mode is “mimicry”, which is akin to imitation. The infant imitates its mother’s facial expressions. Another example that empathy is innate and affective is that when a baby hears another baby cry, it will start crying, too, as an element of empathic distress.

The second empathy-arousing mode is “classical conditioning”, which develops in preverbal children.

Apparently, children receive feelings of distress as conditioned responses if they observe someone in distress. For example, when a mother feels sad or anxious, her anxiousness may be transmitted to the child and therefore the child becomes distressed.

The third empathy-arousing mode is direct association. Direct association refers to situations where a child’s experiences evoke feelings in him if he connects or associates with a victim’s situation.

The fourth and fifth empathy-arousing modes involve cognitive aspects that are “mediated association” and “role-taking”.

In “mediated association”, language plays an important factor.

Verbal messages from a distressed person must be semantically processed and decoded, which act as a mediator between the distressed person and
the observer.

Therefore, the observer who decodes the person’s message and relates it to his experience will respond empathically to the distressed person.

In role-taking, an advanced level of cognitive processing takes place, where a child puts himself in another person’s shoes and imagines what he feels.

Researchers have found that making children imagine a victim’s distress will arouse more empathic feeling than making them observe the victim’s distress.

In enforcing role-taking, teacherscan boost empathy in students through subjects such as Moral Education. Students are made to understand the perspectives of other people by making them act out roles, either through role playing or drama.

Researchers believe that empathy training in the form of role-taking can cultivate students’ cognitive, emotional and social development. This is one measure to prevent one from becoming a bully.


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Parents will suffer if they overlook children’s formative years

Friday, February 2nd, 2018
(File pix) Children are innocent and receptive to new ideas and influences.

THE issue of discipline in schools has attracted much attention from parents and academicians.

Two years ago, I shared my views on to how to bring up children and groom them into well-balanced and academic individuals.

As a parent of two adult children, I would like to share my experience on how I guided them to behave responsibly and inspired them to do well in their studies.

From their childhood to adulthood, they were never scolded or caned to discipline or correct their behaviour.

Instead, I guided them to develop a character that could lead them to the right path. Since young, they understood the importance of discipline and good behaviour.

Children are innocent and receptive to new ideas and influences. They will gain wisdom as they grow.

A child’s character and personality are established by 7. It is important that parents shouldn’t overlook this period of development

My children were not pampered, instead, they were guided to learn good behaviour as they grew.

When they were 1½ years old, they were taught to fiddle with pencils and were exposed to fun learning. They were also guided when to have fun playing with their friends.

I cannot recall any moment that my children had not done their best to impress me in their studies when I began coaching them as toddlers.

Although the journey was tedious and challenging, I cherish every moment of our time together.

Learning together was also time for us to bond.

Children emulate parents’ positive and negative traits, more so when parents are their first teachers and guardians.

If your children misbehaved and are reprimanded by the school authorities, you shouldn’t overreact.

You should examine what had gone wrong in the character development process before overcoming the problem.

To cope with the increasing cost of living, many parents are working hard to make ends meet.

Unfortunately, if you overlook the character-building process of your children during their formative years, not only do you have to pay a high price, you will also feel guilty for your oversight.

Many parents thought that schools could turn problematic children into a well-behaved people in a short period of time. Teachers, too, are humans.


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Copy of rule book a must for schools.

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: Every school must have a copy of the Education Ministry’s disciplinary guidelines.

Teachers, especially new ones entering the profession, aren’t aware of what they’re allowed to do and the standard operating procedure for disciplining students.

The two books — general discipline guidelines in schools, and discipline guidelines for teachers and schoolheads — were published in 1981 and 1988 respectively.

There are over 10,000 schools nationwide but many don’t have a copy of the books.

But legal action, he said, is detrimental to children as it’s emotionally distressing.

“These books make clear what teachers are allowed to do but many schools don’t have copies of them anymore.

“We couldn’t even find them in bookshops.

“The books, however, must be updated in line with the changing times,” he said, adding that parents could also read the books to know the role and limits a teacher has in meting out punishment.

The books, like the 200,000-strong union’s newly completed code of ethics on parent-teacher relations, would promote better understanding between parents and teachers, he told a press conference here yesterday.

On Jan 7, NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan told Sunday Star that key points in the code include disallowing helmets, or other items that could be used as a “weapon”, in school.

The code, Kamarozaman said, called on parents who have issues with a teacher to see the schoolhead first before going to the authorities.

But the police, he said, would be called in if parents entered with helmets, or items that could cause harm.

“We’re waiting to present the code to the ministry.

“It can be distributed on registration day so that parents and teachers are on the same page.”

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Let’s protect our educators

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

PARENTAL groups and educators are in support of the code.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim agrees that parents, like teachers, should adhere to a code of ethics. Clear two-way communication, she said, is vital.

“Several countries have adopted the code. We should consider some of their best practices,” she said, while suggesting that the Rakan COP (Community-Oriented Policing) programme be reactivated in schools.

“Parents drop kids off at school and they leave. Naughty kids walk past the gates in view of teachers and prefects. No one says anything so parents are in the dark. There must be communication at all levels,” she said, adding that channels for parents to complain, must also be kept open or some would turn to the Internet to vent their frustrations.

She also called for at least two administrators to be present to listen to discipline cases in the office. As school heads are often not around, everything must be recorded.

“Find an amicable solution. Helmets and items that can used as weapons, must be left at the guardhouse if a parent wants to enter the school.”

While having a code of ethics is good, Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin feels it should be provided for by the respective schools, not the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP).

This is because different schools, have different cultures. Also, students’ backgrounds and needs, vary. There cannot be a blanket code for all schools.

“If the school has a capable head, he or she can come out with a code that’s more appropriate and specific to the needs to the school.

“A good school head will have a clear management policy so harassment and confrontation of teachers is minimised, if not prevented,” he said.

“The harassment and confrontation of teachers can be avoided if the school policy – especially on security, is working well.

School heads, he suggested, must ensure that:

> School gates are closed at all times.

> All visitors report their presence to the guard on duty.

> All visitors are escorted by the guard to the administrative office.

> Administrators are neutral in addressing issues raised by parents, that action is taken immediately.

> Discussions with the PTA is held if an amicable solution cannot be found.

> The district education office and state education department are informed of serious cases.

Most parents, he believes, will only take drastic action if their complaints are not attended to or issues are not solved.

“One father went into the classroom and slapped the teacher for punishing his son. Another, who is a police officer, threatened a teacher who suspected his son of theft. But these are isolated incidents.”

He urged school administrators to provide parents with full details of what’s happening in the school.

He also advised parents not to confront teachers directly and to see the school head if there’s an issue concerning their child.

Association Against Parental Alienation Kuala Lumpur and Selangor (Pemalik) supports the implementation of the code because teachers must be protected or they will be afraid to do their job.

Pemalik president R. Ravishanker thinks the code should also include a standard operating procedure (SOP) for dealing with children of single parents.

Sharing how one parent in a fit of anger, had kicked the pots in a headmaster’s office after one pupil was allowed to go home with the other parent, he said it was very unfair to the school.

Forcing teachers or the school to make such decisions exposes them to abuse. Our educators must not be dragged into conflict, he said.

“But what should a teacher do when one parent begs to see his or her child for 10 minutes? If the teacher allows it, will he or she incur the wrath of the other parent?”

He said there have been many cases where a parent brings the police to the school, resulting in the teacher and headmaster being caught in the middle. Such situations can become emotional and tense very quickly, he said.

“The NUTP’s code of ethics should include situations where single parents – whether it’s those with or without custody, want to visit their child. What are the documents these parents must have with them? How much discretion should the school have?”

Lawyers Friends’ for Life (LFF) is helping the NUTP to look into the code’s legal impact.

LFF treasurer Haliza Abdullah said the non-governmental organisation comprising practising lawyers, is in the midst of preparing an opinion for the NUTP.

But the code, she said, has no legal effect until it’s implemented by the ministry.

“The system regulating education must benefit all parties. We’re concerned about the rising number of cases involving teachers and parents who are not able to settle matters arising from disciplinary action taken by the school.”

She said LFF is approaching the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry for input on how the Child Care Act would relate to the code.

“We are supporting the code because it’s a way of telling the public that seeking a remedy in court is not always the best solution.

“Understanding responsibilities and accountabilities is more important especially when it relates to education.”

Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation senior vice chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye laments how parents today are overprotective. Parents, he said, must be made aware that their child has misbehaved, or has disciplinary issues.

“Definitely we need a code because it can prevent misunderstandings that could land teachers in court.

“Discipline in school is crucial but parents and teachers must be on the same page. In many cases, parents think their kids are well behaved so they get angry when punishment is meted out.”

The code, he said, must spell out the SOP for teachers faced with problematic kids.

Discipline is the joint-responsibility of parents and teachers. So, once a parent is made aware of their child’s misbehaviour, they must not deter the teacher from doing his or her job.

If teachers have to constantly worry about being sued, their morale would suffer and eventually, they will stop caring. Lee recalled how the teaching profession used to be held in high esteem and how parents would support teachers when disciplinary action was taken against their child.

“Now, if the parent is a big shot, he will immediately call the ministry to complain. Parents must respect teachers, otherwise how can they expect their children to do the same?” he said.

If teachers are not protected, the school system would not be effective in educating the younger generation, he concluded.

Educationist Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam agreed. He said teachers are always blamed when parents are unhappy.

“Teachers are either asked to settle it themselves, or apologise. When teachers punish a child, it’s in the media. But when it’s the other way around, teachers suffer in silence.”

He said the situation has gotten from bad to worse with more and more teachers feeling frustrated because no one is standing up for them. Some parents, he said, would get aggressive and take matters into their own hands.

He said it’s vital that the code is accepted by parents otherwise it would serve no purpose. But having a code alone, is not enough. The government must restore respect and integrity to the teaching profession by setting up an independent commission to look into improving the education system.

“If my grandchildren are reprimanded by a good teacher I would say ‘thank you’, because I know they are doing it out of love and care. Most parents nowadays don’t even ask their child what they did wrong to deserve the punishment.”

The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry has welcomed the proposed code.As a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the government has the responsibility to protect children from any danger that can bring physical and mental harm to the child, said its deputy minister, Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun.

She said whatever form of punishment that is carried out, must b

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