Number of bullying cases in Hong Kong schools up by 62 percent: authorities

Eight teenage boys have been arrested after a video of them harassing another boy by pinning him down and pulling down his pants went viral. Screengrabs via Apple Daily video.
Eight teenage boys have been arrested after a video of them harassing another boy by pinning him down and pulling down his pants went viral. Screengrabs via Apple Daily video.

The Hong Kong authorities received more than 200 reports of school bullying cases last year, a 62 percent increase from the previous year.

The figures were revealed by the Education Bureau (EDB) in response to a question filed by lawmaker Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan yesterday during a finance committee meeting in which lawmakers scrutinize and approve government spending proposals.

Cheung asked the department how many school bullying and cyber-bullying cases had been reported to the department in the last three years, what authorities have done to combat bullying and better support students, and whether the government would allocate additional resources to help with that.

Responding to Cheung’s query, the permanent secretary for the department, Ingrid Yeung, revealed that officials received 202 cases of school bullying for the 2017-2018 school year, up from 124 the previous school year.

In addition to the 202 school bullying complaints, they separately recorded 54 cyber-bullying complaints.

For the 2015-2016 school year, the department received 204 school bullying-related complaints. The department didn’t make clear if the figures from the previous years included cyber-bullying incidents.

The numbers were collected from annual surveys carried out by the department in public primary and secondary schools.

“Given the uniqueness of each case, it is not possible to handle all cases with standard procedures and difficult to indicate their progress with statistics,” Yeung said in her written response. “Thus the EDB has not collected information on the progress of case-handling and therefore the required information is not available.”

Yeung goes on to say that the department will not tolerate bullying in schools, and will continue to provide training for school staff to handle these cases.

She added that starting from the 2019-2020 academic year, the government will implement a “two social workers for each school policy” to enhance support at the 460 secondary schools in the SAR at a cost of about HK$313 million (about US$40 million) per year.

News of the figures comes after numerous reports in the first few months of 2019 of high school bullying in some of the city’s schools.

The most prominent allegations concerned the Yan Chai Hospital Tung Chi Ying Memorial Secondary School, a public boys’ high school in Ma On Shan where in the space of one week, three videos depicting bullying incidents on campus appeared online.

The first one involved a group of teens pinning a boy to the floor with chairs, pulling down his pants and spanking him; a second showed a boy being pushed onto a table and elbowed in the back; while a third showed boys pinning one boy down and smothering him with a sweater.

Last month, a private boys’ school also in Ma On Shan was also the subject of unflattering news coverage after a video was sent to local media showing some of their students engaging in a demeaning prank that quickly turned into a classroom brawl.

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