9th grader accosts teacher and smokes in class, tearfully apologizes after video goes viral

An Indonesian junior high school teacher reconciles with his student after the latter accosted and smoked in front of him in a viral video. Photo: Video screengrab from Tribun
An Indonesian junior high school teacher reconciles with his student after the latter accosted and smoked in front of him in a viral video. Photo: Video screengrab from Tribun

There seems to be no end to stories about student-on-teacher harassment (and teacher-on-student) in Indonesia, which observers warn is indicative of a disturbing culture of violence and bullying in the country’s schools. The latest incident involves a viral video of a junior high school student exhibiting utter contempt towards one of his teachers.

Over the weekend, a clip went viral showing a ninth grader in the Gresik Regency of East Java rudely accosting his teacher, at times mockingly challenging him to a fight in front of the class and even lighting up a cigarette at one point. The teacher shows incredible patience during this extreme demonstration of insubordination, remaining quiet throughout the video.

The second half of the video above cuts to a scene in which the boy reads out a written statement of apology during a mediation session at a police station. He then gets up to kiss his teacher’s hand and the two hug — while the boy is choking up in tears — as the teacher says he forgives the student.

According to the teacher, who has been identified as Nur Khalim, the video was taken on Feb. 2. That day, the boy, identified by his initials AA, was skipping class to hang out at a nearby warung (kiosk). When Khalim found him and told him to return to class with the threat of telling his parents, AA did return but confronted Khalim in class, as seen in the video.

“He came down to face me and, while smoking a cigarette, he said, ‘I dare to smoke in front of you.’ I said put it out, but he did not respond and instead became more rowdy, even holding me by the shirt,” Khalim told Kompas yesterday after the video went viral.

“I then said he couldn’t continue [being rude] or the consequences would be dangerous. I wanted to grab the cigarette but he went up on a chair and continued smoking, so I snatched the cigarette and put it out. A few minutes later their homeroom teacher came and that’s when the students became quiet.”

Khalim said he accepted the apologies of AA and his parents.

Luckily, the education system has not given up on the young boy just yet. The Gresik Education Board said they will not punish AA as he showed remorse during the mediation session.

“We will not punish the child because we are all responsible for him. If this kid’s behavior can change 180 degrees, shouldn’t he go on [to continue receiving his education]?” Gresik Education Board Head Mahin said yesterday, as quoted by Kompas.

This is far from the first incident of student-on-teacher violence in recent memory. In 2018, an art teacher in Madura, East Java, died after being hit by one of his students. The past few years have also seen stories other stories about students beating teachers and even attacking them with weapons, as well as at least one incident of a student murdering a teacher over bad grades.

Conversely, teacher-on-student violence is also quite prevalent in Indonesia. One of the most viral cases last year took place in April, when a teacher in Purwokerto, Central Java, became a criminal suspect for child abuse after a video of him slapping one of his students hard went viral.

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