The Ministry of Education says it strongly condemns violence in any form, and in view of the recent cases reported by the media, would like to reiterate and reinforce that there is a zero-tolerance policy on any form of violence or abuse in schools.
The Ministry says children who are victims of bullying often suffer from long-term trauma beyond the initial incident, including low self-esteem, behavioral problems and an inability to concentrate and perform to their full potential at school.
They say in some tragic cases, it can cause lifelong mental health issues and lead to self-harm, and it’s important to realise that bullying isn’t limited to physical violence; often, verbal attacks and emotional suffering are just as dangerous.
The Education Ministry says the Fijian public must work together to break the stigma around reporting bullying, and recognise that doing so is an act of courage.
The Ministry encourages children who witness or experience bullying to come forward and report acts of physical or verbal abuse to their Head of School, or dial the Child Help Line service (1325), which allows them to remain anonymous if they choose.
Once an incident is reported, it is mandatory for Heads of Schools to report the matter to the Fiji Police Force, take the student(s) for medical examination, and duly inform the parents of the children.
The Education Ministry says Heads of Schools are tasked by the Ministry to take up such responsibilities and ownership.
It has also stated that any incident that is in breach of the Disciplinary Policy should be reported by the Heads of Schools to the Ministry within the first hour of the incident.
The Ministry recognizes that such behavior cannot be stopped by teachers alone, and is calling on parents, students, community leaders and all members of the public to work together in combatting bullying for the sake of our children and our society as a whole.
The Ministry also sends a message to those students suffering from bullying - please know that while the pain sometimes feels like too much to bear, your lives will get better, and thousands of parents, teachers and students stand behind you with love and compassion. We are here to support you.
A student is still in custody and being questioned by Police in relation to an alleged violent assault on a student of boarding school in Tailevu which was captured on video. Police officers from Korovou Police Station were at the boarding school last night and recorded the statement of the victim.
Police say the victim has confirmed the alleged incident occurred last year however investigators are looking into other aspects of the incident and whether the matter was reported after it was raised with the school authorities.
Chief of Intelligence and Investigations, ACP Biu Matavou directed an immediate investigation to be done by the Criminal Investigations Department last night after the emergence of the video of a group of students bullying and violently assaulting a student.
The disturbing video which is widely being circulated shows a group of students taunting a student who is in uniform and they are then seen repeatedly hitting him with a piece of timber, punching him up several times and swearing at him in the iTaukei language.
People are calling for immediate action by the authorities.
Many are also alleging that many cases like this continues in some schools including some prominent boarding schools.
ACP Matavou is now awaiting the CID's investigation.
Police are seriously concerned about this incident and the CID team is now working to gather more details about the alleged incident.
Anyone who can help with information regarding this incident is requested to call Crime Stoppers on 919.
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