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Taiwan's schools launch anti-bullying campaign (Update)

2011/02/16 14:14:19

Taipei, Feb. 16 (CNA) An anti-bullying campaign hoping to createa more friendly learning environment for students was launched atelementary and junior high schools around Taiwan on Wednesday.

Education officials and local government heads participated inthe nationwide campaign, part of the "friendly school campus week"initiated by the Ministry of Education to coincide with the firstweek of the spring semester.

Vice Education Minister Chen Yi-hsing and Taipei City EducationCommissioner Kang Tzong-huu took part in a "friendly school campusweek" rally at Taipei Municipal Lanya Junior High School.

Chen said the ministry wanted to use the campaign to enhanceanti-bullying, anti-gangster and anti-drug awareness at schools.

"We hope students can learn about school bullying and how to dealwith it to help them respect themselves and others and create asuperior school environment that is safe and friendly, " Chen said.

Reporters questioned whether a campaign of slogans and skitscould achieve the desired effect, but Chen said that action wouldonly be taken when a consensus was formed and that "awareness is thefirst step in education."

Both Chen and Kang also signed a big "anti-bullying" postershowing the palm prints of the school's faculty and students.

Similar activities were held throughout Taiwan, with schoolsusing creative ways to underscore their determination to drivebullying away.

New Taipei City Mayor Eric Liluan Chu led education officials andsenior police officers in wearing a pink scarf to demonstrate theirresolve in fighting the phenomenon.

"Pink is a warm color, and wearing a pink scarf symbolizesgreater warmth and peace on school campuses, " said Chu, who alsoemphasized that the campaign was not a short-lived fad but one thatrequired persistent concern and effort.

He said his city's approach would stress character education andbe vigilant against even minor bullying incidents.

Taichung Mayor Jason Hu said there was no room for bullying atschools, and he urged students to make good use of hot lines set upto help them.

He said that if students were aware of any bullying, they couldhelp handle them, alert teachers, or dial the 113 or 1999 hot linesto enlist the help of professionals.

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu, speaking at an anti-bullying rally at ajunior high school, said her city has set up counseling centers atall elementary and junior high schools and published anti-bullyinghandbooks to spread the message.

The mayor said Kaohsiung will share its experience in fightingthe behavior at a national meeting on Feb. 21.

But Chen also called for an increase in the number of counselorsat schools and urged the Ministry of Education to devote greaterattention to the problem.

Meanwhile, Taoyuan County's Bade Junior High School, where publicoutrage over the issue was triggered late last year after itsprincipal was found to have deliberately ignored a string of bullyingincidents, also took part in the campaign.

The school's new acting principal, Tai Chin-ming, led 1,800students and teachers to pledge that they would "show concern forstudents, respect teachers, be filial to parents and abide by schoolregulations with passion."

The Ministry of Education originally planned to send an officialto take part in the event, but because county officials opposedsingling out the school, the ministry backed off its plan out ofrespect.

The scandal unveiled at Bade Junior High School focused renewedattention on the problem, which a survey conducted recently indicatedwas widespread.

A Child Welfare League Foundation survey of fifth, sixth, seventhand ninth graders conducted in January found that 18.8 percent of thestudents responding to the poll said they had been bullied often(meaning more than three times a month) at school.

(By Johnson Sun, Chang Che Fon, Wan Hong Kuo, Chiu Chun Chin and
Lilian Wu)