Child rights activists James Nayagam and Madeleine Yong say Guam’s move to create student-led anti-bullying programmes may prove fruitful in Malaysia.

In the wake of the tragic death of 18-year-old T Nhaveen, child rights activists have urged the education ministry to consider looking at methods adopted by Guam that have proven successful in curbing bullying in schools.

According to a news report in Australia’s online news portal ABC News in 2014, the number of bullying cases in Guam dropped by 80% since 2010, from 930 to about 160 cases, after the introduction of student-led anti-bullying programmes.

Child rights activists James Nayagam and Madeleine Yong told FMT that it would be wise for Malaysia to consider such a programme as well.

“There will be challenges at first and we should continue conducting awareness programmes, but I strongly believe this will be a great success in Malaysia,”
– James Nayagam

Although Yong agreed that peer support groups were important, there was still a need for a systemic solution to bullying in schools.

“You need to create support networks in schools. Peer groups, of course, support each other, but even when there are peer groups, you have to go to adults for help,” she said.

“If you don’t put structures in, all of that is just a waste of money. The solution to bullying does not lie in more programmes, but in enforcement and monitoring.”

Nayagam agreed it was important that adults take a hands-on approach instead of leaving it to the children to act alone.

“If students are going to be the ones who are handling it, then what support system is there for them?

“What if there’s a situation that requires the help of an adult? There must be a backup panel of people that will complement the students in their efforts.”

Yong, who is the founder of Protect and Save the Children (PS The Children), said parents and teachers needed to “wake up” and realise that bullying was a major problem.

“The adults need to be more alert and need to know how to respond when they know children are being bullied.”

“Unless adults want to take this seriously, you can have all the programmes in the world and it’s not going to make a difference.”

Nhaveen, who was brutally assaulted and sodomised on June 9 by a group of five youths, died from his injuries at the Penang Hospital Thursday evening and was cremated yesterday.