A number of viral videos over the last few year have led to increased concerns about the violence perpetrated by young Indonesian students, from huge ritualistic street brawls to brutal bullying inside schools. A shocking video of one girl being tormented by a large group of her peers became the talk of Indonesian social media yesterday, in part because of swift, severe punishment the bullies now face.
We’re not going to share the video here (if you’re determined to see it it’s easy enough to find online) but it depicts a large group of middle school students, male and female, surrounding one girl in a secluded part of Central Jakarta’s Thamrin City shopping center. The bullies take turns savagely pulling the girl’s hair, throwing her to the ground, punching and slapping her as their fellow tormentors egg them on.
Towards the end of the video, the girl is forced to touch the hands of her bullies to her forehead (a gesture known as salim, traditionally done as a sign of respect towards one’s elders) while the humiliation is photographed.
After the video went viral, it was quickly reported to Indonesian authorities. The Jakarta Department of Education and local police quickly figured out that the incident took place last Friday and all of the students involved were from a nearby middle school in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta.
The teacher’s council at their school decided yesterday to severely punish the nine students identified as taking part in the bullying by expelling them from the school as well as revoking their right to to a Jakarta Smart Card (KJP), which gives parents access to funds used to pay for educational costs as well as other related benefits such as free rides on the TransJakarta busway.
“Yes, those are the rules. They have been returned to their parents, it is the decision of the senior teacher’s board so we cannot intervene either,” said Jakarta Secretary of Education Susi Nurhati as quoted by Detik yesterday.
According to Susi, the nine expelled students admitted to their mistake and accepted the board’s punishment. They also promised not to make similar mistakes in the future.
“The victim has forgiven them and revoked her report to the Tanah Abang Police Station after she and and the perpetrators signed a peace statement,” Susi said.
If indeed the victim decided of her own accord to forgive her bullies and not turn it into a criminal matter, then she has already shown more grace and maturity than one could ever expect from somebody subjugated to that kind of torment. Hopefully her scars, both physical and emotional, will heal in time.