Last Thursday, an art teacher in Madura, East Java, died after being hit by one of his students. As shocking as the incident was, it was hardly unprecedented. The past few years have seen 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.
What could be behind so many incidences of student violence towards teachers in Indonesia? Well, based on recent reports by the local media, you’d think it all could be attributed to a web game called “Pukul Guru Anda” (Hit Your Teacher).
Soon after the death of the teacher in Madura, some Indonesian netizens alerted the media to the game, saying it was a bad influence on the younger generation (note: there is absolutely no evidence that the student who killed the art teacher had ever played the game).
Soon after, the Commission of Child Protection (KPAI) jumped on the controversy, saying they question the makers of the game, which features cartoonishly over-the-top animations of a student brutally maiming his teacher with various objects.
“The existence of games with sadistic content cannot not be tolerated, anyone could become a victim. In this case, we refer to the case that just happened, where a teachers became the victim,” KPAI chairman Susanto told Liputan6 yesterday.
“It clearly can stimulate children to violence and hurt the values of civility between teachers and students that has been built up,” he said.
The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has already acted on reports and sent orders to ISPs to block Poki.com, the site that was hosting it with the Indonesian title “Pukul Guru Anda”. However, Poki.com had merely taken the game, which is actually titled “Don’t Whack Your Teacher”, from another web game site called Big10 where it still remains (as well as on numerous other sites).
Violent video games have long been a scapegoat for authorities figures looking to explain youth violence (despite numerous studies showing no evidence that playing such games actually makes children more violent). It’s much easier to blame a game then look at the complicated and varied sociological reasons for such aggression.
In Indonesia, for example, many cases of student on teacher violence seems to have been precipitated by bullying and even violence towards students by the teacher. For example, in the case of last week’s death, the art teacher reportedly smeared paint on the student’s face after he ignored warnings about disturbing other students. The student then cursed at the teacher, who responded by hitting the student with an attendance book. The student retaliated by hitting the teacher on the back of the neck, a blow that ultimately killed him.
The use of corporal punishment in Indonesian schools remains widespread despite official regulations against the practice, even for very young students. A controversy erupted in September over a video allegedly showing a teacher assaulting a kindergarten student.
The point is, blocking one web game may make it look like the KPAI and government are doing something, but it really does nothing whatsoever to address the systemic causes of violence in Indonesian schools. Massive reforms are what are really needed if they actually want both teachers and students to feel safe in their classrooms.