HPC to conduct new survey on bullying in schools

James Kon

According to The Global School-Based Health Survey (GSHS) conducted five years ago by the Health Promotion Centre (HPC) under the Ministry of Health (MoH), 21.1 per cent of 2,599 students under the age of 18 in Brunei Darussalam are victims of bullying.

With only old data from 2014 being available, the HPC, with the support of the Department of Schools under the Ministry of Education (MoE), is carrying out a new GSHS this year to get a truer picture of bullying in Brunei Darussalam.

This was disclosed in a press conference yesterday by Clinical Psychologist and Mental Health Strategy Lead at the HPC Nor Syahmun binti Haji Matassan.

“We are currently conducting a new survey, to see if there are any comparable differences,” she said, adding, “We believe that every child is entitled to be safe and happy at school.

“The strategy in the prevention of bullying has to be a collective effort and everyone has to get involved.

“Instead of shying away, we want to tackle this together. It’s a whole-of-nation approach.

“When kids are bullied, they would go to their parents or siblings first, and then to their friends, with the last port of call being teachers or counsellors. Therefore, it is important for parents to be vigilant.”

The Bully-Free Brunei (3B) programme is currently targetted at schools, but Nor Syahmun said, “We do believe that bullying happens everywhere, such as workplaces and on roads. We hope to extend the programme to the rest of the public, in the next phase.”

Head of Student Affairs at the Department of Schools Hajah Jeriah binti Haji Duraman explained, “Currently, we are working on a clearer data to give a true picture of bullying issues in schools.

“The data collected from schools last year has shown around 200 cases of bullying, with the majority of it being cyber-bullying.

“Bullying can have negative effect on children’s education, causing them to become dropouts. This is a very serious matter, so we need to prevent bullying in schools.

“According to the GSHS around five years ago, the majority of victims of physical bullying in schools are 13 to 17 years of age, and are bullied once a month. This is alarming.”

Health Education Officer at the HPC Muhammad Yusuf bin Haji Abdul Rahim, meanwhile, said that victims can also call the National Mental Health hotline at 145 for help.