Published: 10:29, April 2, 2024 | Updated: 10:29, April 2, 2024
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Authorities crack down on school bullying
By Zhao Yimeng

Measures range from inspections and punishments to enhanced supervision

(PHOTO / IC)

Local authorities have been ramping up efforts to prevent and punish school bullying amid heated discussions about several incidents involving teenagers.

In recent months, videos went viral on social media showing young students in provinces such as Shandong and Guangdong suffering from school bullying and being attacked by their peers.

Last week, the Education Department of Fujian province urged local bureaus to conduct a comprehensive inspection of all primary and secondary schools regarding prevention and control of campus violence and school bullying, aiming to promptly identify any potential risks and take necessary measures to mitigate such situations.

We need to impose strict penalties for criminal behavior committed by juveniles involved in bullying ... strengthening legal education for juveniles.

Xiong Bingqi, director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute

The Chengdu Education Bureau in Sichuan province announced last month that junior middle school students who have a record of school bullying will be deprived of recommendation opportunities for top senior middle schools.

In Shanghai, measures to prevent and identify student bullying were introduced in 2019 with the publication of a guidance manual for preventing and controlling bullying among primary and secondary school students.

Last year, the city upgraded the manual, strengthening the responsibilities of all parties involved in preventing bullying and enhancing operational aspects.

The manual defined different levels of student bullying, such as those that include physical injury and property damage, and provided clear operational guidance for schools and teachers.

Given the challenge of identifying student bullying, the manual proposed routine measures such as enhancing supervision in key areas and focusing on specific groups.

It also highlighted nine abnormal behaviors in student conduct and language as indicators of student bullying, which parents should be aware of.

For severe cases of school bullying, the manual emphasized the involvement of public security and judicial authorities.

It introduced a section requiring judicial intervention in the handling of bullying, specifying the obligations of schools, teachers and judicial authorities to collaborate effectively.

Xiong Bingqi, director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, said the country must establish a long-term mechanism for addressing bullying, which includes having manuals for prevention and control, and establishing committees dedicated to preventing student bullying.

"We need to impose strict penalties for criminal behavior committed by juveniles involved in bullying. Even if their actions do not lead to criminal liability, we must follow legal procedures to solve the issue, thereby strengthening legal education for juveniles," Xiong said.

Last fall semester, a middle school in Dehui, Jilin province, activated an intelligent voice system capable of recognizing distress calls and abusive language and issuing an alert within five seconds, according to the school.

Wang Jinghui, vice-principal of the school, said that since the system was put into use six months ago, no cases of campus bullying have been detected. However, it functions as a deterrent and the school will continue using it.

A school in Fuzhou, Fujian, has tried installing similar devices in washrooms and some key areas with high risks of school bullying.

When the device detects certain sounds and triggers an alert, the computers or smartphones of teachers will receive a message.

Wan Li, vice-chairman of the All China Lawyers Association and a national legislator who has been paying attention to school bullying in recent years, said prevention is far more meaningful than punishment.

The device can assist in preventing incidents by monitoring a broader area, but it cannot directly stop an assailant, Wan said.

Close coordination among police, communities, schools and families to handle the problem is necessary to establish a mechanism for prevention, related education and the control of campus bullying, he said.

In an education campaign launched last week among primary and secondary schools nationwide, the Ministry of Education urged local authorities to guide schools in improving students' ability to protect themselves, including curbing school violence and bullying.

zhaoyimeng@chinadaily.com.cn