Parliamentary Replies

September 04, 2019

Measures to combat bullying at educational institutions

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Assoc Prof Walter Theseira, Nominated Member of Parliament

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) what measures are in place to detect, minimise and combat bullying based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, at educational institutions; (b) whether these measures differ by the level of the educational institution, from secondary schools through post-secondary institutions; and (c) whether teachers, staff and administrators receive training to handle such incidents sensitively.

Response

1. Mr Deputy speaker, MOE takes a serious view on bullying. We have zero tolerance for bullying in any form, and every student has a right to feel safe and secure in all our schools and post-secondary educational institutions, in short PSEIs.

2. While students generally get along well with one another, there are incidents of bullying in our schools and PSEIs from time to time. When such cases are reported, they are promptly investigated and followed up with counselling support for the victims and appropriate disciplinary action against the perpetrators.

3. It is also very important for parents to reinforce the same values and expectations on their children’s behaviour. Therefore, the schools also work very closely with parents to help perpetrators take responsibility for their actions and restore the relationships with whom they have hurt.

4. We have professional counsellors, and also trained teachers, academic mentors and peer helpers, to look out for students in distress, and be proactive in attending to and addressing all hurtful behaviour, including acts that are directed against students due to their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

5. In their school curriculum, and especially through Character and Citizenship Education and subjects such as Social Studies, students are also taught the importance of respect and empathy for others. Students are also taught to speak up against, and report bullying to the school authorities. These education efforts are continued in the PSEIs which create and raise anti-bullying awareness with modules such as teaching lifeskills, lunchtime talks and also student outreach initiatives.

6. Instilling good values in our students is a shared responsibility between parents, schools and the community. It is therefore imperative that we work in partnership to develop sound values and good character in our young.