Bullying and violence among students and teenagers should be kept in check as the culture is gaining a foothold in our society. Pix by Halim Salleh

I REFER to the NST report “5 held for beating teen unconscious” where an 18-year-old student had been declared brain dead after he was assaulted by a group of teenagers in Penang.

T. Nhaveen was allegedly assaulted, burned and sodomised by a group of teenagers at a field in Jalan Kaki Bukit, Bukit Gelugor, Penang. The incident happened less than two weeks after National Defence University of Malaysia student Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain, 21, died at Serdang Hospital on June 1 after he was allegedly assaulted by a group of university students in Serdang.

Bullying and violence among students and teenagers should be kept in check as the culture is gaining a foothold in our society. Hardly a day passes without some form of violence being committed, be it at home, school or elsewhere.

While there was an overall reduction in crime index, violent crimes rose by 2.4 per cent when 22,326 cases were reported last year compared with 21,810 cases in 2015.

Most minors get into crime because of negative peer influence, insufficient parental guidance, bad influence of the Internet and gangsterism.

These are worrying trends and have to be looked into by the authorities and other segments of society to find enduring solutions.

The government, together with other stakeholders, must find the reasons why our juveniles are behaving like this and why they are disobeying the law.

Indiscipline, such as truancy, misbehaviour, thefts and fights leading to violence and injury, must not be tolerated even if such problems are not alarming in our schools and universities. The subject of bullies and other forms of indiscipline must also be reviewed with the aim of identifying our weaknesses and taking steps to address them.

We must tackle the “culture of violence” which appears to be gaining a foothold in our educational institutions. We need the government’s intervention and the support from all stakeholders, including parents, psychologists and non-governmental organisations, to help tackle the problem.

Among others, they should focus on mental health as it could be one of the main reasons for such violence.

The National Health and Morbidity Survey in 2015 showed that about 4.2 million Malaysians aged 16 and above, or 29.2 per cent of the population, suffered from mental problems.

The number is alarming because it shows an increase of 11.2 per cent compared with 2006. More troubling, the problem also involves students as the ratio of those facing mental problems has increased from one in 10 people in 2011 to one in five last year.

Experts have cited anxiety and depression as the main causes of mental health problems among students. Other factors include family problems, physical and cyberbullying and stress when it comes to their studies due to pressure from parents and teachers.

In this regard, parents and teachers must encourage their children and students to get medical check-up at the hospital to ensure that they are free from mental health problems, which is expected to become the second largest health problem in Malaysia after heart disease by 2020.

The Education Ministry, with the assistance of teachers and counsellors, must identify students prone to violence and begin an intensive counselling programme that that can help them before they destroy someone in the future, including their own lives.

Our surroundings also play an important role as an unconducive environment could cause stress and mental illness. Cramped or overcrowded housing areas or apartments, for example, will encourage young people to be involved in loitering and other negative activities.

Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, Senior vice-chairman, Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF)

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