Bullying is a serious matter and should never be brushed off as a small issue. It can affect a child’s sense of self-worth and future relationships. In severe cases, bullying has contributed to tragedies, such as attempted suicides. Recently, the incidence of bullying in Malaysian society, especially in schools has become increasingly rampant. In this school system, counselors would play the most pivotal role to help students face these challenges and address these issues. With this in mind and in response to the needs of school counsellors, the International Medical University (IMU) in collaboration with R.AGE and StudyHub Asia organised a workshop for more than 110 school counsellors in the state of Selangor and 3 officials from the District Education Office (Pejabat Pelajaran Daerah) to equip and upskill them on issues related to bullying, general counselling and behaviour management. The half – day workshop on 26 April 2018 was conducted by IMU’s team of lecturers and students from the Division of Psychology with Dr Nicole Chen and Alexius Cheang (both psychology lecturers at the University) being the main speakers.
The workshop started with a welcome address from Head of Division, Dr Shamala Ramasamy and an ice – breaking session by a psychology student. Various topics related to bullying such as understanding the psychology of bullying and various approaches to this issue were discussed in this interactive workshop. Relevant videos were also played at the workshop to emphasise on certain issues. Commenting on the reason for choosing this topic for the workshop, Dr Nicole Chen said, “Bullying issues have been a concern for the country for many years, however, the type of bully that has been happening in the country lately has become a very concerning phenomenon. For example, a case of an 18-year boy, who was assaulted by a group of teenagers and he fell into a coma. Not long after, he has been declared brain dead, eventually he passed away. We have another case which happened September last year (2017) in a tahfiz school. We lost a total of 21 children and 2 wardens in the fire which was caused by the mischief of a group of young adolescents who decided to set fire as revenge against a few pupils of the school.” As for the workshop, “We are glad many student counsellors came for the workshop, we had a total of 118 counsellors participating in the workshop. The student counsellors were very responsive and active in participating in the workshop. A number of good proposals on “Managing Bullying Issues in School” were generated by these student counsellors. All the proposals were later shared with them to use as a resource when they are back to their respective schools.” “In the workshop, the first half of the session started with understanding the dynamic of bullying. The participants learned the concept of bullying, types of bullying and the psychological impacts caused by bullying. The second half of the session, focused on approaches that the student counsellors can bring back and implement into their school. The concept of using positive psychology and whole-school approaches were then presented to the student counsellors. The counsellors were encouraged to implement both approaches in their school to prevent cases bullying happening in schools. “ The workshop saw the counsellors coming up with many innovative ideas to combat bullying in schools and sharing them with the audience. There was also a sharing session for the school counsellors to share their experience in dealing with bullying in their school.
Commenting on the event, a counsellor from a Petaling Jaya school said, “I personally appreciate the great effort and initiatives created by the organisers as this was an eye opener for me as a school counsellor. The workshop was excellent and I really enjoyed the session. I feel that it would have been better to have a discussion section in a group and solving of sample cases. I also feel that these activities could not be done due to the short duration of the workshop. “
A similar workshop was conducted for the counsellors from Kuala Lumpur schools on 6 March 2018 and in Penang on 11 October 2018. Watch this video on “The Science of Bullying”