Despite HK reporting the most children being bullied in the world, many students don't see a need for anti-bullying laws

Despite HK reporting the most children being bullied in the world, many students don't see a need for anti-bullying laws

The Education Bureau says schools are required to put reporting procedures in place, and so take responsibility

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Despite record bullying numbers, not everyone thinks a law would help.

In a story published in SCMP yesterday, it was reported that the Education Bureau has said it did not consider it necessary to introduce anti-bullying laws or a compulsory reporting process. This is despite Hong Kong ranking first in a study of 53 countries in terms of children being bullied.

The results of the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), which were released last year, showed 32.3 per cent of 15-year-olds in Hong Kong said they were bullied at least a few times a month.

An Education Bureau spokeswoman told SCMP in August that the Bureau required schools to show zero tolerance towards bullying and to implement proper reporting mechanisms and handling procedures. She said its yearly survey showed the number of students involved in school bullying cases had dropped from about 260 in the 2012-13 school year to 120 in 2016-17.

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The Bureau did not think anti-bullying laws or a citywide compulsory reporting mechanism were needed, she said.

But some in the community want tougher legislation, especially to tackle cyberbullying.

Professor Edward Chan Ko-ling of Polytechnic University’s department of applied social sciences told a recent conference that the law needed to catch up with what was happening.

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“We can only use existing laws, such as ‘access to a computer with criminal or dishonest intent’, but this is outdated, he said. Phones are not covered by the law, but “smartphones can already perform most functions of a computer”.

In a poll organised by Young Post, around 70 per cent of people who responded supported an anti-bullying law in Hong Kong. But among those who gave more detailed answers, opinions differed.

“I would definitely support an anti-bullying law, but it would be hard for the law to work since there are quite a lot of grey areas we have to consider so as to ensure maximum protection for the victims,” said 18-year-old Eunice Yip
from Hong Kong Shue Yan University.

However, Zachary Perez Jones, 14, of South Island School disagreed. “I feel like an anti-bullying law would not be that effective.” He went on to say that most schools in Hong Kong already have anti-bullying policies, like they do in many other countries, and that the policies often rely on students to report incidents of bullying. Unfortunately, he said, that often doesn’t happen because students are afraid to speak out about it.

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