President calls for open, swift action on bullying cases

The China Post news staff

President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday urged schools to handle bullying cases actively, quickly, openly and through cooperation with authorities. The handling of bullying is like dealing with governmental corruption cases in which the responsible agencies should not be concerned about keeping the scandal “inside the family,” Ma said at the year-end tea party with the media at the Taipei Guest House, accompanied by Vice President Vincent Siew. Ma outlined the four principles for fighting school bullying. First, school authorities must actively investigate and look for possible bullying cases, which Ma said are sometimes inevitable. Cases should also be dealt with quickly “without delay, without hiding and without cover ups.” Thirdly, schools should cooperate with police investigations if cases involve criminal actions. As some school teachers might not know what kind of action constitutes a criminal offense, teachers must be more well versed on legal concepts so they can be more informed as well as educate their pupils on the issue, Ma said.

Finally, schools should explain their handling of bullying cases to the public, Ma said. The Ministry of Education is generally heading in the right direction in the fight against school bullying, Ma pointed out. Emergency communication measures are in place between schools and the police for quick response to bullying cases but not every school reports its cases to the authorities, he added. Police will definitely help tackling bullying but people should not rely on the police alone. Fighting school bullying “is a mission of education, not purely of public order,” Ma stressed. Meanwhile, former head of the Academia Sinica and Nobel Chemistry Prize laureate Lee Yuan-tseh said yesterday that comprehensive and continual education reform, instead of merely focusing on specific bullying cases, is needed to solve the bullying issue. A period of soul-searching over current modes of moral education, human relationships and even family interactions is needed, he stressed. “However, the public has a short memory and would only study the problem in front of them,” he added. “Problems are complicated. People should not attempt to solve them simply by dictating solutions.”