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Teamwork will do the trick

© UNICEF Malaysia/2007/Nadchatram
Farah Fathiah (L) and her school friends, Purnima and Hannah discuss the impact of school bullying and what they can do to prevent it.

By Farah Fathiah bt Fauzi

The eldest of eight children, fourteen year old Farah Fathiah bt Fauzi, loves her friends, as much as she loves books, especially the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling. Farah who aims to be a counselor for children, shares her own personal experiences and feelings of being a bystander to bullying in schools.

KUALA LUMPUR, 10 July 2007 – “Bullying has been a really popular topic to talk about in my recent years in school. I believe this is because bullying is happening all the time, in schools and outside schools! And the newspapers are reporting about it. When I visit my relatives, they always nag me about my safety and to be careful and not keep quiet if I get bullied! I know what they are saying is true, and I appreciate that they care and that they are trying to protect me.

“I think bullying started ages ago, if not 'ragging' will not be called a 'tradition' in boarding schools. However, I think this is always THE excuse. Ragging should not happen. When the seniors say they want the juniors to respect them, they do it wrongly through ragging. Instead of respect, seniors who rag only earn hatred and fear from the juniors. Now that isn't right. Everybody knows that it is hard to earn respect. To earn respect, one has to do something good for others.

“I was in a boarding school for a few months when I was in Form 1. I was a band girl then. And in that school, being a band girl is really tough. Teachers love the band girls since they are the ones who bring up the school name. Being accepted into the band was a huge thing and to quit it would be like walking blindfolded into a cage of hungry beasts!

Witnessing a friend being bullied

“One really hot evening, during prep time, my friends and I heard shouts. There was a commotion in the basketball court. In the middle stood Tasha*, my friend, who had decided to quit the band because the pressure was too much. All around her were the seniors, band girls, who were not happy with Tasha’s decision. Under the blazing sun, my friend stood with the biggest and heaviest snare drum on her head which she supported with her hands. The seniors were shouting and insulting her in front of everybody. All eyes were on Tasha.
 
“When I saw what happened to Tasha, a cold trickle of fear went down my spine. I felt scared, yet desperate to help her, although I knew I couldn't do anything. I pitied her, I wanted to be there with her but I felt helpless. I was worried, if she cried for help, who would help her? If she fell, who would help her up? If she fainted, who would call for help? No one. Luckily enough for Tasha, the teachers came. If it weren't for the teachers, I don't know what would happen since we all feared the seniors.

“In regular public school, I became friends with Mack*, who is a really nice person. Each day, however, is a challenge for him since many of the boys will tease and mock him. Mack was usually strong but then one day, he couldn't stand it any longer, and burst into tears. Somehow, when that happened, my heart felt really heavy and I was sad. I felt almost exactly the same way I did years back when I witnessed Tasha being bullied. It hurt to watch a good friend in pain. Together with a few of my friends, I talked to Mack and I felt good that I could help him. The weight on my shoulders lightened a bit. All of us who talked to Mack had made him feel better and helped to change a corner of the universe. That day, I learnt that words of support do help.

Working with youth to wipe out violence 

“I sometimes fear that bullying is something almost impossible to wipe out. I think what is being done now is really good. But to make all these campaigns, counsellings, talks and motivational camps work, you have to make children and young people a part of it. You have to make us want to join in. And to do that, the activities have to be fun and interesting and appealing to us. Don't do talks about what will happen but show us what would happen. Just  listening to someone talking isn't as fun. And when learning is fun, we understand better. Projects like 'Create a Sketch of The Consequences of Bullying' which involves everyone is really useful. 

"I live in a beautiful and peaceful country. As such, I cannot understand why we should allow violence to happen in schools. Schools are practically our second home. We spend more than 6 hours a day in a school and to have a school famous for bad discipline, well, that would be just aweful.

"Responding to violence requires a lot of hard work, patience and time. But if it earns results, wouldn't all the hard work be worth it? I am certain that there must be volunteers who are prepared to help out in school. I am. In my own way, I will start small by making sure that things go right in my class. I hope this will not only help the school but will also benefit my classmates and myself. I realise it will take effort and that I cannot do this alone. Everybody has to be a part of it. Teamwork will do the trick!”

 

 

 

 

Say No to Violence Against Children

Violence against children: Schools


Voices of Youth


Child Protection: Malaysia

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