By Erda Khursyiah Basir
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- The Kuala Terengganu High Court gave a bully victim much needed justice when it ordered nine parties, including five former students of Sultan Mahmud Secondary School (SESMA), to pay a sum of RM616,634.20 to the victim.
As a result of being beaten, kicked and slapped by senior students, the victim who was 14 when the incident occurred on April 26 2015, lost his hearing because his right eardrum ruptured – rendering him unable to carry out water based activities for life. This is in addition to several other injuries he sustained.
Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia law lecturer Professor Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmod said the court decision was described as giving protection to the victim under civil laws by compelling all defendants to pay large quantum of compensations.
“The decision in this case demonstrates a step forward when it involved civil laws on compensation suit for the victim's physical and mental injuries. From the aspect of protecting the rights of a bullied student, it ensures a positive development as it succeeded in defending the victim.
“The victim was earlier depending on the protection of criminal laws where police took action and the defendants were brought to court to be charged,” he told Bernama.
He said the court decision should also raise the awareness that bullying did not only result in negative implications on the victim but dark consequences on the bullies and their families as well.
“Not only did their actions show a lack of morality but it has brought great shame and burden to their families as well, as the latter now has to find a way to come up with money for the compensation. Their future is now also affected as it is tarnished with a court record that states them as bullies,” he told Bernama.
NIP IT IN THE BUD
Nik Ahmad Kamal said the schools should play a bigger role by curbing any forms of bullying while continually monitoring students.
According to him, extreme jokes and the tradition of ragging which usually involved senior students giving certain instructions to junior students during orientation were no longer the appropriate way of getting to know each other or a “show of respect” to the senior students.
"Schools and teachers should take measures to detect risk factors leading to bullying as well as other social problems involving students,” he said.
He said the time has come for the government to provide special guidelines to overcome the problem of bullying in schools.
The President of the Parent Teacher Association at Sekolah Kebangsaan Bandar Baru Sintok, Kedah, Dr Mohd Khairie Ahmad said the implications of the judgement in the case showed the need for schools to have a clear policy to provide justice and welfare to the management, teachers, victims as well as bully.
He said the weakness of the existing policy and guidelines should be reviewed and improved so that the management would not take the easy way out or view reports of bully victims lightly.
To ensure the safety of students in schools, he said the school management should monitor the capability and capacity of teachers or wardens in carrying out their duties.
In this regard, he called on the Education Ministry to expand welfare services to students by introducing measures like group insurance to cover bullying cases.
“The case has opened the eyes of the community that bullying is something we should pay full attention to. The decision of the court shows how deep the impact of bullying is on the future of the bully and the victim,” he said.
He advised everyone to not look at the case in terms of the compensation quantum but the seriousness of the social disease instead.
According to him, bullying occurred in other countries such as Japan which reported 410,000 bullying cases in 2017 – an increase of 90,000 cases compared to 2016.
“The matter caused Yell, an insurance company in Japan to offer new bullying insurance policies in May 2019 to assist in the legal cost of bully victims to obtain justice in court,” he said.
The Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) stated that 3,011 cases of bullying were reported nationwide in 2015 and the figure rose to 3,488 cases in 2016 before falling to 2,795 cases in 2017.
Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya Educational Psychology and Counselling Department lecturer Professor Datin Dr Mariani Md Nor said bullying was a physical, mental and emotional act that affected the social development of an individual.
“It gives major impact especially on the victim, as the bitter experience will affect his social life. Not only is he traumatised but riddled with emotional and social pressure as well.
“Some will continue to feel the trauma for their entire lives. Bullies should be suitably punished for their crimes if we are to raise awareness that bullying is immoral and negatively impacts the lives of others,” she said.
LOOK OUT, SPEAK OUT
Federal Territory Sekolah Menengah Agama Majlis Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan counsellor Mohd Azni bin Abu Hassan said parents, teachers and the public play a collective role in tackling the issue of bullying.
He said schools needed to create an environment that was comfortable and respectful to all individuals.
“Teachers should be more caring to changes in a student. Any change (in behaviour) may be an early symptom of the student having a problem – which could include bullying.
“Apart from that, an anti-bully awareness programme should be held in all schools to inculcate awareness and curb the social ill from taking place,” he said.
Translated by Chiew Hai Wah