Be it the physical act of kicking, hitting, shoving, and punching or the verbal one like calling names, teasing, making fun of people,and spreading nasty rumors , bullying can come in different forms and shapes, whether face to face or via the Internet. Because of being easily performed and easily spread, bullying is considered a major serious issue, even in Cambodia even though no official figures are available to show the percentage of people affected. This is a general review of the status of bullying in Cambodia.
|SEE ALSO: Bullying FAQ|
Bullying among Youth of Cambodia
Bullying among youth happens regularly, and for several reasons; it might be due to lack of confidence that one person suffers that pushes him/her to bully others in order to impress the people around them; they think that it is an act that impresses others although it might only attract sympathy to them.
According to Jolyda Sou who was an advocate for the Stop Bullying campaign in Cambodia, she said that based on some of the interviews that she conducted among the youth, most of the bullies don’t know that their acts might leave their victims totally devastated and frightened. She also stressed on the fact that some of the youth who have been subjected to bullying acts before might then turn to be bullies themselves and harm people around them, to make people feel what they have once felt.
Youth who are involved in bullying usually suffer from some psychological aspects like running away from their homes, turning to drugs and alcohol, being absent from their schools, and even worse is trying to commit suicide. That’s in addition to the psychological scars that are stuck in the victim’s memories forever from the constant bullying because of the destructive impacts that happen to their health like the injuries they suffer, the cuts, and the bruises from the fights that they have engaged themselves in; not only that but they might face the damage of their possessions during the process.
The acts of bullying that are sometimes found among young children at schools and cause the victim to feel depressed might carry on at workplaces, and that’s when it is more dangerous because it might cause more serious problems than depression, like panic disorders and heart diseases.
A study conducted by Yale University in the United States states that the victims of bullying are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than the bullies themselves. Jolyda herself once faced an act of bullying when she was in secondary school; she was always being beaten by the students in her school because of her prominent teeth, and she would always go home with tears and bruises, and one time she even thought of suicide.
When it comes to preventing bullying in schools, the problem lies in the government itself not paying much attention to the issue. The National Policy on Cambodian Youth Development does not cover bullying and its prevention, although a lot of people in Cambodia suffer the mockery of others, who usually shame and humiliate them by referring to their parents who might be prisoners or AIDS patients, for example.
Bullying in the Schools of Cambodia
In the schools of Cambodia, students still suffer from bullying, and it might be one of the main reasons that parents still believe in some countries that bullying acts are a normal thing for their children to encounter in schools, because they are all still young and they don’t really understand what they are doing, and most of the time they are moved by jealousy. In a report done in Cambodia to explore the three aspects of the problem of violence against children, it was found that about third of the girls and 40.6% of the boys have been bullied before and 44.9% of them said that they were seriously bullied.
It is believed that the history behind education in Cambodia is one of the main reasons leading to the the high emergence of bullying between students. It is known, according to the Nature of School Bullying book, that 50% of Cambodia’s citizens are illiterate and there is a very high rate of grade retention, especially among the secondary students with about 16,000 of the students in the last secondary year repeating for the third time. That was probably the result of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1997, when almost all schools at the time in Cambodia nearly collapsed as substantial governmental education funds have been diverted to finance the civil wars, leaving the school damaged and unequipped.
Bullying is a harmful act directed to one or more people with the intent of hurting them and leaving them powerless. It can come in different forms; it could be physical, verbal, or online. The victim is usually picked based on his differences. If he is an outcast or a quiet and shy person always playing alone, or even if he has a disability or a special learning need, he is more likely to be picked on. And that’s the case in Cambodia, where people are still making judgement based solely on appearance, and they think that when a person is tall, slim, and white, then he/she is beautiful, but otherwise, he should be automatically bullied.
“Stop violence against us” was a report published by the National Research Study which was directed to 1,314 students from both genders; about 36% of them said that they have been subjected to bullying and the reason was because they looked “different,” and 45% said that the bullying they had to suffer through was extremely serious and not a single passing incident.
To put an end to the phenomenon of bullying, parents, teachers, children, and school officials must do their parts. In case of the parents, it is essential that they do the following:
- Listen to their children: parents should make sure they pay attention to their children’ stories. If an incident of bullying is mentioned, they should know what happened, who started it, and who else was involved.
- Make their children feel safe: parents should make their children feel that their suffering makes sense to them and that they “get it,” because children usually feel ashamed of those bullying incidents that they have been subjected to, and most of the time they think that they deserve it. So parents in this case should make them feel safe and at ease and explain to them that being bullied is not their fault.
- Never ask the child to keep it a secret: bullying is not something that should be kept a secret; it should be reported and actions should be taken. Parents should assure their kids that telling them of the incident was the right thing to do and that keeping it hidden out of shame or fear will not solve the problem.
- Not only parents, but schools as well should make sure that there are active programs that can help the child whether he/she was subjected to bullying or whether he/she had bullying tendencies. Schools should also assign programs for the teachers to educated them about the various ways with which they can handle bullying incidents in their school.
Cyber Bullying in Cambodia
Cambodia has been aware of the dangers that the Internet might bring along, like online bullying especially on social media websites, and that’s why the government had issued an anti-cyber crime law in 2011 which ordered Internet service providers to block certain websites that are considered critical to the government. This law was provided to improve the safety of the Internet users and protect legitimate interests; it also has specific provisions on data interference, illegal access, and child pornography. This bill also prohibits the “writings or pixilation that display inappropriate activities of persons, and copulation between humans and animals; or devalue the morals of family values and pixilation that displays domestic violence”.
Among the trials of the Cambodian government to protect school children from cyber bullying crimes is the governmental war on Internet cafes. they asked the Internet café owners to put cameras across the place and to register the names of all customers that use their services. Then after a while the government issued another law in Phnom Penh banning all the Internet cafes available within 500 meters from schools or educational buildings. And the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications warned the owners in the banned zones from shutting down their property and seizing their equipment and arresting them as well if they don’t abide by the law, and if there were any apparent crimes inside the café, penalties might be even higher.
These acts were not the first to be imposed by the government of Cambodia, but some initiatives were made since 2008, when the government ordered an artist to shut down his website for portraying bare breasted Apsara (which is the traditional Cambodian dance) dancers.
You could argue that the Cambodian Internet laws limit personal freedom and are very anti-liberal. But whether we agree or not, these acts, intentionally or otherwise, played a role in protecting a number of children from the evils of the Internet.
Frequent users of the Internet are affected by different acts of cyber bullying, with the daily usage of mobile phones, computers, and other technological devices. Teens don’t usually know how they should respond to what they are facing. Cyber bullying is defined as any kind of harmful act that is done by one person to another causing him/her to feel threatened or uncomfortable and distressed. It usually comes in the form of sharing some personal information or private pictures that victim wouldn’t want anyone to see. Cyber bullying might leave the victims
- Suffering from low self esteem since they can’t defend themselves.
- Spending a lot of time alone whether at home locking themselves in their rooms or at schools where they prefer to sit in the libraries, play alone, or have their dinner alone.
- Feeling afraid whenever any member of the family comes near their laptops or their mobile phones for the fear of them knowing about the bullying they are suffering from.
- Over time and with the constant abuse, they might completely avoid going to school or meeting people.They’ll always fabricate excuses to skip school today and might eventually drop out.
- They might fall victims to depression and anxiety and would be found crying all the time.
- Victims of cyber bullying usually don’t know who their bully is, due to the anonymity that the Internet provides, and that makes them even more scared because they don’t know whether this person is someone they might meet in school or around the house or if they will never meet them at all.
Khmer Campus for Cambodia University Students
To raise awareness against bullying and especially workplace bullying among university students of Cambodia, Khmer Campus, which was specifically formed by Cambodian students to be some sort of students’ hangout where they can search for useful information, posted some guidelines to students who are about to start their career life. The guidelines included what bullying means in a workplace context and how to stand against it and prevent it from the start.
Khmer Campus referred to workplace bullying as a kind of inappropriate behavior done repeatedly by one person to the other; it might be between staff members or between employees and the customers, patients, contractors, or the people they visit or deal with. And since this was targeting the students who are about to leave their universities and start working for someone, Khmer mentioned that the new employees are usually more vulnerable; they are still unaware of the atmosphere they are about to work in and that’s why the older ones might use their experience and power to bully and intimidate them.
In Cambodia there were no incidents reported regarding workplace bullying, but that does not mean that they are absent; they might not be reported for different reasons. It might be because of the lack of government’s attention for the issue, or it could be because employees are afraid of losing their jobs so they don’t mention any incidents that happened to them or the ones they even witnessed.