Singapore schools report ‘very few’ incidents of bullying: Ng Chee Meng

Singapore schools report ‘very few’ incidents of bullying: Ng Chee Meng
Screen shot of a video posted in September 2017 showing a group of boys from St Hilda’s Secondary School fighting

Singapore students are generally well behaved and there have been “very few” incidents of bullying in schools, said Minister of Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng on Tuesday (3 October).

Ng was responding to a question from Non-Constituency MP Daniel Goh in Parliament on whether bullying is prevalent in schools and the preventive measures to deal with such incidents.

“Based on a student-perception survey conducted by OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) in 2015, about 10 and 20 per cent of our 15-year-old students reported they had experienced some form of social and verbal bullying, respectively. Physical bullying was less prevalent, at about 5 per cent. This is quite similar to MOE’s findings and other local studies,” Ng said.

MOE does not tolerate bullying in any form and when students misbehave or make mistakes, schools will discipline and educate them, he added.

The comments by the minister came three weeks after a video was circulated online of a group of boys from St Hilda’s Secondary School who was fighting in a classroom while an adult looked on. In the video, the boys were seen throwing punches and shouting obscenities at each other.

Ng said schools have put in place bullying prevention and intervention measures such as providing avenues for safe reporting of bullying cases, investigating and following up on reported cases.

School personnel have been trained to counsel students who are involved in bullying as well as those affected by such incidents. Through counseling and education, students learn about relationship management, and values including empathy and respect for others, he added.

One area of concern, however, is cyberbullying, according to Ng. Responding to a question from Nominated MP Chia Yong Yong on the definition of bullying, the minister said hostile or aggressive messages communicated online can cause hurt to victims as they can be seen by many people.

“We understand that this is a growing area of concern and schools are dealing with it,” Ng said, without citing any data.