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A “big sister” helps students cope with bullying

safe schools_girls
© UNICEF Malaysia/2009/Tee
Dashenee Huthamaputhiran (left), 17, learned from the Safe Schools program that bullying can encompass many forms, including psychological abuse like teasing, name-calling, intimidation and exclusion.

By Tee Shiao Eek

KUALA LUMPUR, 4 October 2009 – As Head Prefect, 17 year-old Dashenee Huthamaputhiran is a friendly face around Convent Sentul High School, offering advice to students who break school rules or lending a helping hand to those in trouble.

If she spots any students teasing, harrassing or bullying each other, she steps in to help resolve the situation or bring the problem to the attention of her teachers.

These are among the skills that Dashenee learned through the safe schools program, an ongoing initiative by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with Malaysia’s Ministry of Education and HELP University College.

“The most important thing that I learned from the bullying program is the different ways used by some students to bully other students. For example I never knew that calling people names is a form of bullying,” Dashenee admitted.

As a prefect, Dashenee applied what she learned from the program and used it to help her friends.

Bullying enters cyberspace

Bullying goes beyond the physical form, as it can also include psychological abuse like teasing, intimidation and exclusion.

Today, technology has provided new opportunities for bullying, as more young people depend on mobile phones and the Internet for communication and entertainment.

Through commonly used channels like blogs, chatrooms, file-sharing programs, social networking sites and mobile phone messages, children and young people can be
threatened, excluded from activities, or humiliated by having misleading messages or photos about them posted online.

Media reports in Malaysia suggest that cyber-bullying is prevalent among children and young people here, but much of it could be under-reported, as few people are aware that it is a serious problem.

Love your friends

safe schools_cyber bullying
© UNICEF Malaysia/2009/Tee
Technology has provided new opportunities for bullying. However, the Internet and mobile phones are valuable tools for learning and communication, and children have the right to be protected while using them.

The safe schools initiative by UNICEF is a school-based program to prevent the occurrence of violence in the learning place, especially bullying among students.

Through the seminars and workshops organised by the school, Dashenee and her schoolmates have been empowered to cope with bullying, and prevent it from going too far.

“A safe learning place is every child’s right,” said UNICEF Representative to Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei Mr Youssouf Oomar.

“One of the ways to make the learning place safe is by addressing the issue of bullying. UNICEF is committed to addressing this, working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education and HELP University College, because we want to make sure that children and teachers are properly equipped to address and prevent bullying,” added Mr Youssouf.

The safe schools initiative also includes a teacher’s manual and training activities to equip teachers with intervention skills so that they are able to manage bullying among students.

Empowered to help

With more knowledge about bullying, Dashenee has been able to help a 14-year old girl at school who is a victim of cyber-bullying through a popular social networking site.

Using her peer-to-peer coaching skills, Dashenee intervened and encouraged the girl to seek help from the school counselor.

“I treat every student in this school as my sister, and I try to help them in any way I can,” said Dashenee.

Guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF works with its partners in Malaysia and around the world to ensure that every child like Dashenee can live free of fear and violence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Safe Schools video news report

Watch a video report on UNICEF Malaysia's Safe Schools program, in partnership with Ministry of Education and HELP University College (TRT: 2:36 mins)

Play video


Progress for Children (No. 8): Child Protection

Progress for Children
A Report Card on Child Protection Number 8, September 2009


Say No to Violence Against Children

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