SINGAPORE — The Primary 5 students accused of bullying a female student in Mee Toh School have been counselled, disciplined and have reconciled with the victim, said second minister for education Indranee Rajah on Monday (6 April).
“In this case, the principal made them revisit the incident with them standing in the shoes of the victim. This made the wrongdoers truly regret their actions. They had to apologise in person to the victim,” said the minister, who was responding to a question in Parliament about the incident.
Mee Toh had also engaged the parents of the students involved, who were supportive of the school’s action.
“The school has observed that the students have interacted well, after the school facilitated reconciliation sessions,” she added. The minister declined to disclose other details of the disciplinary action.
Mee Toh has standard operating procedures to deal with bullying incidents, and MOE has assessed that its follow-up actions were appropriate, the minister said.
“MOE will further strengthen our efforts to educate our students against bullying in our schools. The 2021 revised CCE (Character and Citizenship Education) curriculum will teach pro-social behaviours, respect, care, and empathy. It will encourage those adversely affected by bullying to seek out help without fear of stigma,” said Indranee.
“MOE will also support all schools in establishing a peer support culture, so that every student understands that bullying is wrong and learns how to extend help and support to those who have been bullied.”
Member of Parliament for Jurong GRC Rahayu Mahzam asked Indranee how long the victim had been bullied and about official channels available to family members to raise such concerns.
Indranee replied that while she did not have a specific timeline for the case, parents were encouraged to highlight such cases to teachers and schools.
“I think at the end of the day, the key thing is this, to bring it to the attention of the teachers in the schools as soon as possible. From the MOE side of the house, we want to make sure that the schools respond appropriately and quickly, and in time, and also to make sure that we have the appropriate peer support culture.”
On 6 March, Twitter user @47SLZ posted pictures of notes containing insulting messages that had been thrown at her younger sister’s face by a classmate.
“My heart broke today, it was my sister’s birthday yesterday and one of her classmates threw this to her face as ‘birthday present’,” she said in the post referring to the notes.
In other tweets, she claimed that such bullying “keeps happening” to her sibling, who is one of “only a handful” of Malay pupils in the school.
In a reply to Yahoo News Singapore’s queries, Mee Toh’s principal Wang-Tan Sun Sun said that the pupils who were involved in the bullying incident regretted their actions. All the pupils, except one on sick leave, had been counselled and disciplined.
“We have spoken to the parents of the students involved in the incident and they understood the seriousness of their children’s actions,” she said, noting that a “long discussion” was also held with the victim’s parents to assure her that the school took the matter very seriously.
Wang-Tan said that investigations began immediately after the school was informed of the incident. It completed investigations within three working days and decided on the disciplinary actions to be taken.
The high profile incident came to the attention of Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, who said in a Facebook post on 10 March that bullying was wrong and could not be tolerated anywhere, especially in schools.
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