Bullying, a frustrating situation.

Bullying is a common thing. Go to any school in the world and signs of bullying can be seen almost anywhere. Quiet kids who constantly glance behind their shoulders. A child who doesnt have any pocket money for lunch. Bullying may seem like a minor problem but if prolonged, things may get out of hands and also link to other social problems as well.

Cases Of Bullying In Singapore

SINGAPORE: More cases of bullying in schools have been reported in the past year and according to experts, the bullies are also getting younger.

Last week, Channel NewsAsia ran a report on how one special needs student was beaten up by his classmates in front of his mother.

Two weeks ago, police received two reports on bullying.

One involved a girl who was slapped, stripped and filmed by her schoolmates.

The other - a boy beaten up by his friends on his birthday - had to be hospitalised.

And now, a parent has called the Channel NewsAsia hotline about how her daughter's schoolmates were beating up their peers in the toilet, and locking them in the washroom.

The parent, who did not want to be identified, said this took place in a girls school.

Is bullying a problem in Singapore schools?

In 2005, the Singapore Children's Society received 120 calls for help from victims of bullying.

Last year, this number was 176.

The fact is, most students do not even know about the existence of such a helpline.

Furthermore, for every bullying case reported, there are dozens more who choose to remain silent out of fear.

The Coalition Against Bullying, who have been working with schools, say bullying is occurring at a younger age, even in pre-schools.

And with more students toting mobile phones, and innovations such as You Tube, cyber bullying is also becoming more rampant.

An increasing number of disturbing clips are also being posted online, prompting copy-cat behaviour.

"We have seen a few cases where they are very fearful to go to school because bullying happens in school. And recently one of my colleagues actually handled a case, this Primary 2 girl, she's [having] suicidal thoughts because the parents force her to go to school and the parents don't know that bullying happens in school," says Tan Bee Joo, Head, Student Service Hub, Singapore Children's Society.

The Education Ministry says besides taking appropriate disciplinary action on bullies, counselling and other preventive actions are also carried out.

This include programmes which raise a student's awareness of bullying.

And although more counsellors have been deployed to schools, experts say teachers can also help.

Says Chia Poh Yok, President, Coalition Against Bullying, "There are not many counsellors in schools, at most two in the secondary schools, and for teachers to rely on them, it would mean that teachers would just dump the cases on them.

"And also these bullying cases …[happen] in classrooms, or toilets, or corridors, and these are all places where teachers are around and not the counsellors. So teachers actually have more opportunities to work with the students, in reality, they are the ones who are there."

The Education Ministry says other than school counsellors, most secondary schools have teachers who are Honorary Volunteer Special Constabulary Officers with the skills to conduct investigations into bullying cases, if they occur.

They add, all trainee teachers would also have gone through a module of "Classroom Management" in the National Institute of Education, which equips them with the necessary skills to manage general discipline issues, including bullying in schools.

But organisations like the Singapore Children's Society and the Coalition Against Bullying, who both work with schools on bullying awareness programmes, say that more must be done to train teachers to identify and deal with bullying.

An increasing number of schools have been running anti-bullying programmes. - CNA/yy

Why pick on the weak when they themselves are weak?