Student's winning speech shines light on hidden anguish of cyber bullying

A heartfelt speech on the rising prevalence of cyber bullying and its impact on children's emotional lives won Aruna Wallwork Tuala the first place prize in yesterday's Zone B Year 13 Impromptu speech competition at Maluafou College.

“I feel excited and humbled at the same time,” the 16-year-old student from the Robert Louis Stevenson School said.

The Year 13 student from Vaoala village said she was inspired to speak about the topic after witnessing its impact on her classmates. 

“I am really passionate about this topic, cyber bullying, because a lot of the people around me, a lot of my friends in school, have experienced cyber bullying," she said. 

“And also [as] one of the leaders of the school, [cyber bullying] is an issue that is very common among the youths."

In her speech, Aruna said cyber bullying has increased along with the availability of technology. 

“Compared to traditional bullying, which happens face to face and only happens outside of homes - in schools, recreational areas - but home is seen as a sanctuary because you come home and you’re surrounded by your parents; bullying cannot occur," she said.  

“However, with cyber bullying, the bullying follows you home. It can occur anywhere, any time and place, and no amount of isolation or shutting the door will stop it from happening. 

“Furthermore, because no face to face contact is needed, cyber bullying has the option of anonymity. Bullies have the option of hiding their identities from you.”

The aspiring engineer said what makes cyber bullying harder to prove and address is a lack of evidence, unlike physical forms of bullying. 

“People believe cyber bullying is not as serious as traditional bullying because there’s no visual evidence," she said. 

"When bullying occurs you can see the bruises, the scratch marks or the visual distress that the child displays when they’re being bullied. 

“With cyber bullying there’s probably no way to detect whether your child has been cyber bullied or not, a lot of the times [we children] keep these stuff to ourselves because we don’t want our parents to confiscate our devices or limit our use of social media. 

“But this is what makes it so serious. 

"Because there’s no visual evidence, because our parents cannot detect it in their children, they don’t worry about us. And this problem just builds and builds until to a certain point where, in the least cases we feel low self-esteem, but in the more serious cases we find children committing suicide to try and stop [it].”

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Aruna said any problem that causes a child to take his or her life is serious. 

“I believe that Samoa as a Christian nation, as a nation where we value our people and especially our youths as they are the future, we should take this social issue head on and address it, spread awareness to our students and make it known to them how damaging cyber bullying really is to a child and how much it affects them.

“So, to you students, I tell you": before you comment something, before you post a picture, before you ruin a child’s life, I want you to think about your action, especially on social media. 

"I want you to think about the impacts that your actions have upon another child and how what you do can really change their lives altogether.” 

Aruna also took part in last year’s impromptu speech competition at which she placed second.   

The Samoa Observer Editor, Mata’afa Keni Lesa, was a competition judge and commended the students for their efforts. 

"All the speeches [yesterday] were wonderful. I was really amazed with the stuff you all came up with. You are all winners,” he said. 

Tiare Lui of Fa'atuatua Christian College took out the third place and Leon Loibl of Pesega College came second. 

Nine schools participated in the competition. It was sponsored by Samoa Stationery and Books, and organised by Maluafou College.

The competition was judged by ACEO of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, Leota Valma Galuvao and the Editor of the Samoa Observer, Mata'afa Keni Lesa.

It was opened by Reverend Epati So'oula with the Director of C.C.C.S. Education, Rosita Esera, delivering the keynote address where she encouraged the speakers to be authentic in their speeches.

Other winners: 

4. Priscilla Va’ai - Saint Mary’s College

5. Angellynn Faaleiua - Seventh Day Adventist College

6. Gideon Lafaele Tovia - Saint Joseph’s College

7. Melisha Toetu - Maluafou College; and Sherry Avealalo - Faleata College

8. Inailau Luatuanuu - Channel College 

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