PUTRAJAYA, 20 November 2018 – Seven in ten students are calling for a national law that will protect children from bullies, according to a new Children4Change Survey released today in conjunction with the World Children’s Day.

Read the Report: WCD C4C 2018 Survey Report – Bullying

Involving over 2,000 children below 18 years old from across the country, the Survey was carried out online and offline under the Kindness Project by the Ministry of Education Malaysia, WOMEN:girls and UNICEF.

According to the survey results, no child has been left untouched by bullying – either as a witness, victim, or bully – with verbal and relational types of bullying being the most common. Three in four children reported they are victims of humiliating name calling. And a staggering 64% admitted to having been involved or maybe involved in committing acts of bullying.

Through personal testimonies, children disclosed that bullying can sometimes take extreme forms: one boy shared that he had witnessed “someone being told to kill themselves because they suck”; whilst a teenage girl disclosed “sexual images were taken of me without (my) consent.”

“Getting young people to reconsider their electronic communication habits is crucial and more and more necessary especially for a better sense of self-worth. Letting young people seed the idea of kindness themselves to overcome bullying is a proactive movement of young people wanting to be more invested in the environments that they are in,” said Low Ngai Yuen, President & Founder of WOMEN:girls.

According to victims, it is in school where they are most often subjected to bullying (83%), with half the those surveyed stating they had experienced bullying in the classroom – a space that should be safe for learning. Notably, school hostels are places where bullying affects children living away from their family for their education.

“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. This is dangerous as it makes children more vulnerable to violence and its consequences. It is essential that children feel safe to report cases, have confidence that appropriate action will be taken to address bullying, and support given to the victims. The results of the survey highlighted the extent the problem and is a call to action for us to ensure, this World Children’s Day, and beyond, that #MalaysiaBiru is safe for every child to speak up against bullying and encouraged to be part of the solution” said Marianne Clark-Hattingh, UNICEF Representative to Malaysia.

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. Overwhelmingly, children feel negative emotions such as anger and sadness when they witness or experience bullying. Many children revealed feeling depressed by the experience while some also shared they felt suicidal – “I feel like I want to kill myself. …. I’ve tried a suicide once in my school toilet when I was in form 1” shared a teenage girl.

Other findings:

  • When asked if they have ever bullied, 64% admitted to bullying – when asked if they have called someone else a name, hit, kicked, pushed, threatened or been mean, 21% answered “Yes” and 43% answered “Maybe”.
  • 83% of victim says bullying happen in schools, while 58% say they have witnessed bullying on the internet. 54% of both victims and bystanders say bullying happen in the classrooms.
  • At least 75% of children had negative emotions such as anger and sadness when they experienced or witnessed bullying.
  • Bystanders reported feeling fearful that they may be the next victim.
  • Most students surveyed respond healthily to bullying by confiding in a teacher, parent and friend, or telling the bully to stop. Even then, it is the younger children who are more likely to tell a teacher in school (69% for children under 12 years) than older children (38% students aged 16-17 years).

When presented with possible options that will make them feel safe, almost 70% said that a national law that will protect them from bullies is necessary, and 69% called for awareness and education programmes in school. A further 67% wanted anti-bullying school policy to be put in place.

World Children’s Day observed annually on 20th November is a day for children, by children and marks the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It’s a day of action to advocate and raise awareness on the most pressing issues faced by children. In Malaysia, celebrities and corporations are talking about #MalaysiaBiru to promote the rights of every child in Malaysia Baru.