M.E.S.C. Minister on bullying study

The Minister of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.), Loau Keneti Sio, has appealed to teachers to be vigilant and look out for cases of students being bullied in schools.

He made the appeal in response to a Samoa Observer article that was published on Monday, which was based on a global study and revealed that Samoa has the highest rates of bullying among adolescent males and females of any country in the world.

The study stated that a total of 79 per cent of Samoan males and 70 per cent of females had experienced bullying, according to research published in EClinicalMedicine, which is an academic outlet affiliated with the highly acclaimed medical journal the Lancet.

The report is titled "Global variation in the prevalence of bullying victimisation amongst adolescents: role of peer and parental supports" and was published on February 17 after three to five months' compilation. 

Loau told the Samoa Observer that students seem to do whatever they want because the law only allows teachers use reasonable force. 

“On social media parents have said that it is not the teacher’s job to discipline the children and that has made students think they can do whatever they want,” he said.

He added that the M.E.S.C. can see the changes in the students’ attitudes.

“But with the Ministry as far as I am concerned, teachers are not allowed to smack anymore. Another factor that may cause students to bully others is because of peer pressure," he said. “It seems that they have bullied others due to thinking that they can do whatever they want but it is not right and against the rules but it all comes down to parents at home.”

Loau added that if students are always beaten at home, it is likely to have an effect on the students bullying others. 

“With issues like these we need everyone such as parents, teachers, principals, pastors to work together in addressing the issue. Another way is to counsel or talk to the students and find out what causes such behaviours so that we can try and help solve it.”

The objective of the study was to estimate the prevalence of bullying victimisation (and peer and parental support) among adolescents across low-income to high-income countries. 

It stated that Samoan adolescents are the most victimised by bullying of any national-level cohort studied. Young people in a total of 83 countries were studied, with prevalence of bullying falling to as low as 7 per cent in Tajikistan. 

The data for the research was drawn from the Global School-based Student Health Survey of school children aged 12-17 years, between 2003 and 2015, in 83 low-income to high-income countries across six W.H.O. regions.

The authors used statistical models to estimate the adjusted association of age, gender, socio-economic status, parental support and peer support, and country level factors on the impact of bullying.  

Of the 317,869 adolescents studied, 151,036 (48 per cent) were males, and 166,833 (52 per cent) females.

The study also mentioned that the highest prevalence was observed in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (45·1 per cent, 44·3–46·0 per cent) and African region (43·5 per cent, 43·0–44·3 per cent), and the lowest in Europe (8·4 per cent, 8·0–9·0 per cent). 

“Bullying victimisation was associated with male gender [...], below average socio-economic status [...], and younger age," the researchers concluded. 

“Higher levels of peer support ..., higher levels of parental support (e.g., understanding children's problems ... and knowing the importance of free time spent with children ... were significantly associated with a reduced risk of bullying victimisation.”

The authors of the report are: Tuhin Biswas, James G. Scott, Kerim Munir, Hannah J. Thomas, M. Mamun Huda, Md. Mehedi Hasan, Tim David de Vries, Janeen Baxter, and Abdullah A. Mamun.

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