Many children admit to being bullies, survey shows

PETALING JAYA: The majority of children in a survey on bullying have admitted to being involved or possibly involved in such acts, from calling others names or being mean to them, to hitting and threatening them.

The Children4Change Survey, released today in conjunction with World Children’s Day, involved 2,000 children under 18 from across the country.

The study, carried out under the Kindness Project by the education ministry, WOMEN:girls and Unicef, said 64% of the children surveyed acknowledged participating or possibly participating in acts of bullying.

It also revealed that three in four children had been victims of bullying, with some experiencing “extreme forms” of such behaviour.

“One boy shared that he had witnessed ‘someone being told to kill themselves because they suck’, while a teenage girl disclosed that ‘sexual images were taken of me without consent’,” it said.

The survey also revealed that 83% of victims said they were most often bullied in school, with half of those experiencing it in their classrooms.

“A boy from Johor revealed his experience of being humiliated and crushed to the point of losing his confidence – his experience was shared by many.

“Many children revealed feeling depressed by the experience while some also shared that they felt suicidal.”

The survey said one in three victims reported keeping such incidents to themselves, taking no action after being bullied, while others responded by confiding in a teacher, parent or friend, or directly telling the bully to stop.

When asked what would make them feel safe from bullying, almost 70% said a national law against bullying was necessary, while others cited the need for awareness and education programmes in addition to an anti-bullying policy in schools.

“We tend to underestimate the impact of bullying on children and to belittle its effects. In doing so, we discourage children from speaking up, be they victim or bystander,” said Marianne Clark-Hattingh, the Unicef representative to Malaysia.

Clark-Hattingh said this was “dangerous” as it made children more vulnerable to violence and its consequences.

“It is essential that children feel safe to report cases and have confidence that appropriate action will be taken to address bullying, and that support is given to the victims.”