|Authors Andrew and Julie Matthews (extreme right) with the Stop the Bullying contest winners (from left) Yeo Chong Meng, Henusha Suthesan, Soffea Rahim, Bridget Emily Mowe, Patricia Wong and Nurdiyana Zainal Abidin.
Stop the Bullying! - the book written by Australian author Andrew Matthews and his wife Julie – was officially launched on Saturday at the MPH bookstore in One Utama shopping centre, Petaling Jaya.
At the launch, Andrew explained that only one in 10 children tell their parents that they are being bullied. One of the main reasons is that teenagers want to look cool and they can't do that if they tell their parents they are being bullied. Plus they worry about what their parents will do and whether the bullies will bully them more as a result.
According to him victims have said that what helped them the most was telling someone that they were being bullied.
“We've got to encourage people not to be bystanders,” said Andrew.
His wife Julie said we send our kids to school thinking they will be safe, when they are not. In some places, they are even being bullied to death, she said.
According to her, bullying is starting at an earlier age now; even kids aged seven years old are bullies today.
“Our kids are suffering. Literally, no one is helping them. If adults don't have a voice, what chance have these kids got?”
Also at the launch was Chief Insp Gurdial Singh, the Rawang station police chief.
He said while bullying starts in school, it doesn't stop there.
“It goes on in the everyday life of the child. Some of the bullies later become criminals after leaving school and to my shocking discovery, it wasn't just the people doing the bullying in school who later turned to crime; there were also a few cases where the victims later turned to crime.”
According to him, in many cases, it is the schools which are sweeping bullying cases under the carpet rather than exposing them.
He goes so far as to attend school PTA meetings to try to stamp out bullying in schools.
“The education on bullying doesn't just involve children. To my surprise, in many cases, children who are bullying and those who are being bullied do not actually know that their act is a criminal offence,” he said.
He explained that if a child is between the ages of 10 and 12, if he is presumed to be matured, he can still be prosecuted in court.
The act of bullying can be a criminal offence, explained Chief Insp Gurdial.
In conjunction with the launch, there was also the prize-giving ceremony for the winners of the Stop the Bullying contest – a joint promotion of ParenThots and MPH Distributors.
After the prize-giving, some of the winners also read out their stories about the bullies they have encountered in their life.