The Disabled People’s Association (DPA) is both outraged and saddened to read a recent article highlighting a case of bullying by students: “Assumption Pathway School takes disciplinary action against girls seen bullying student in viral video”. While it is encouraging to read of the swift actions by the teacher Ms Norashsikin and the management of Assumption Pathway School, it is simply unacceptable for cases like this to be an occurrence in any school.
Bullying is a horrible thing for any child to experience, but to share the act on social media for others to view in effect victimises the student all over again. In this case there is more at play than bullying, from the comments on the original video it appears they targeted the student because she has an intellectual disability. If this is true, then this is a case of abuse fuelled by discrimination. Such cruel inhumane, and degrading treatment cannot be condoned. The consequences should be proportionate with the actions of these abusers.
This act was detected and reported because it was shared on Twitter, but how many other cases of discrimination motivated bullying go unnoticed because the perpetrators don’t post videos online?
DPA has urged authorities to simplify abuse reporting mechanisms so that they are more accessible to persons with cognitive impairments and intellectual disabilities. Sharing materials about reporting bullying and abuse in easy read format can help those with Intellectual disabilities. It is also important to understand the role of allies in standing up for their fellow students and community members with disabilities.
In 2013, DPA had run its public education campaign (“Their greatest disability is our apathy”) that focused on how particular actions and choices can profoundly affect an individual with disabilities. Years on, this message is still very much relevant. Despite the uncomfortable actions being done to her, the student clearly lacked the empowerment to report this case. It is in this moment that we would like to know what schools are doing to encourage those within the school community, including teachers and students, to report and stop bullying and abusive behaviour.
With current options relying on caregivers and allies reporting cases of abuse on behalf of the person with disability, we are not doing enough to empower those being abused to ask for help.
DPA urges the management and staff of all schools, both mainstream and Special Education schools, to review their current abuse reporting processes to truly make learning and education a safe space.
After all, education will not be inclusive by merely enacting the Compulsory Education Act. It cannot be business as usual. Otherwise we run the risk of doing a huge disservice to the students who rely on these safe spaces in their formative years.
Mr Richard Kuppusamy, President
Disabled People’s Association
Address: 1 Jurong West Central 2, #04-01 Jurong Point Shopping Centre, Singapore 648886