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Beating school bullies in Saudi Arabia

Bullying has become a dangerous trend in our schools today. Unfortunately, our schools do not implement proper monitoring to curb the bullying

Samar Fatany

Published: Updated:

There were a total 110,995 crimes committed in the kingdom in a year, according to a report by the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution (BIP) and discussions in the Shura Council. Earlier an in-depth analysis by the government revealed that about 95 percent of juvenile crimes were spread over a number of regions, include drug abuse and trafficking, possession of knives and daggers, parental disobedience, family disputes and failing to respect the law and people’s rights.

The media continues to report that there has been an increase in the number of juvenile crimes throughout the 12 provinces in the kingdom. Recently there was a story about a group of women students at al-Jouf University and their involvement in a fist fight with their colleagues who were allegedly bullying them. The institution was blamed for not taking action against bullying which resulted in a student being sent to hospital after she was knocked unconscious. Students from the university reported on Twitter that the administration took no action against the girls who encouraged bullying and aggressive behavior. They were also furious at the security guards who allegedly stood by and did nothing.

Bullying has become a dangerous trend in our schools today. Unfortunately, our schools do not implement proper monitoring to curb the bullying and violence that also takes place in girls’ schools. Schools should be held accountable for failing to teach students the importance of discipline.

Who is to blame?

Parents are also to be blamed for raising bullies. They should bear equal responsibility for their failure to instill in their children proper behavior and good manners. The diminishing role of the school as an institution for learning and building character has also contributed to the rise of violence and bullying among our youth today.

Last week in Jazan, a secondary school teacher was killed in a student attack, while a teacher was assaulted in Makkah and another was attacked in a secondary school in Dammam. Security officers in Jeddah also detained four students for attempting to set their school on fire. The Director of Education in Jeddah Abdullah al-Thaqafi stated that the same students were previously accused of several attempts to set the school on fire. After admitting their crime, they were handed over to police for further investigation.

The Minister of Education Prince Faisal bin Abdullah has ordered a special investigation to assess the situation and recommend solutions to curb the rising trend of violence in schools. Some parents complained that teachers are also to be blamed for their aggressive attitude and abuse of students in class. They say their children complain of teachers constantly screaming and reprimanding them in a humiliating way. They also criticize the absence of proper monitoring and strict rules of discipline which has allowed bullies in schools to continue to harass students, and has forced other students to become aggressive in order to protect themselves from harassment

The erosion of the family values of caring, nurturing and sacrificing for one’s family is very disappointing. Our children should be given priority over social frivolities

Samar Fatany

Investigations point out that there are many reasons why teachers become violent and abusive. They are under pressure due to their workload and having to teach overcrowded classrooms with as many as 50 students. This situation makes it difficult for teachers to have control over students, which puts them under great pressure and leads them to resort to violence at times in order to maintain discipline in the classroom.

Other factors include low wages and mistreatment by school management, and sometimes the environment in which some teachers were raised greatly influences their behavior in school.

When teachers are underpaid and do not command respect, their teaching skills will remain limited and their concern will be about their survival and not about their young charges. The absence of discipline and strict rules in many schools leaves children more vulnerable to drug addiction and criminal behavior. There is an urgency to provide better and happier teachers, healthier environments and improved facilities in our schools in order to enhance the quality of life for our children today.

Unfortunately, many families do not understand the true meaning of parenting. The old patriarchal upbringing that does not address the needs of our young ones is one of the reasons behind youth anger and frustrations that are prevalent today. The erosion of the family values of caring, nurturing and sacrificing for one’s family is very disappointing. Our children should be given priority over social frivolities and parents must understand the consequences of their domineering and uncaring attitude.

Moving forward?

The Shura Council has called on the General Presidency of Youth Welfare to implement youth welfare programs in cooperation with concerned authorities, such as the ministries of education, labor, social affairs and municipal and rural affairs, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities and the private sector.

Unfortunately, the Presidency of Youth Welfare has been ineffective and has not catered to the needs of the young in spite of the millions that have been spent to support our athletes and encourage a sports culture in society. The Shura Council has urged the Presidency to upgrade the kingdom’s sports clubs and develop recreational and cultural activities as well as to build more centers to address the needs of the country’s growing young population.

It is clear that there is an urgent need for better policies to address the violence and bullying that has spread in our schools today. We must all remember that the success or failure of our youth could influence the future direction of our nation.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Dec. 7, 2013.

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Samar Fatany is a Chief Broadcaster in the English section at Jeddah Broadcasting Station. Over the past 28 years, she has introduced many news, cultural, and religious programs and has conducted several interviews with official delegations and prominent political personalities visiting the kingdom. Fatany has made significant contributions in the fields of public relations and social awareness in Saudi Arabia and has been involved in activities aiming at fighting extremism and enhancing women’s role in serving society. She has published three books: “Saudi Perceptions & Western Misconceptions,” “Saudi Women towards a new era” and “Saudi Challenges & Reforms.”

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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