【明報專訊】HONG KONG is in turmoil. As the new school term is about to begin, the mood of nervousness in society has seeped into schools. Some secondary students have organised an alliance for the boycott of classes, saying that students from more than ninety schools will participate. The Education Bureau and many schools have stated clearly that they are against the boycott. It is difficult to predict how things will develop.
Another unpredictable issue is bullying in schools. Recently the private information of many police officers and people of different political views has been uploaded to the internet. What has also been made public include the names, photographs and schools of their children. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data has mentioned that the photo of a family whose information had been doxed was uploaded onto the internet, below which was a message reading "Get a gunny sack ready for the pickup". Furthermore, some netizens have called on others to gather outside disciplined services quarters on the first day of school to "escort" the children of police officers to school and "remember their appearances". Some netizens openly incite bullying on campus, calling on other students to identify their "targets" as soon as possible in the new semester and bully classmates who have police officers or police supporters in their families. Some have even posted a "handbook for bullying" on the internet detailing all sorts of ways to bully their classmates, ranging in severity from throwing rubbish at them as an insult to pouring hot cup noodles and raining punches and kicks on them. The tactics mentioned even include the planting of stolen items on their classmates and accusing them of trumped‑up charges.
Some netizens have stated bluntly that they have instigated the bullying of the children of police officers not only to take revenge on the police force but also to exert pressure on their police officer parents. The aim is to force these police officers to resign for their families as a way to weaken the police force. To put it plainly, it is a means of struggle that holds the children of police officers to ransom. Some might dismiss these threats as some "light‑hearted talk" by netizens that does not have to be taken seriously. However, it has to be said that many radical proposals that did not look feasible at the beginning have indeed been turned into real action over the past two months. Bullying in schools is nothing new. Some schools and teachers have experience in dealing with it. However, handling disagreements among a handful of students is incomparable to handling systematic, organised and motivated bullying. Apart from children of police officers, the possibility that other students are ostracised or targeted in school because of all sorts of political reasons cannot be ruled out. The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data expects that the number of cases in which children or young people have their private information "doxed" will rise after the beginning of school. Schools and parents have to monitor the situation closely and intervene as soon as possible to prevent matters from worsening.
Schools should be where students grow healthily. Sponsoring bodies, schools and parents have to work together to ensure that every student can feel at ease at school and learn happily without feeling worry or fear. Parents should remind children that they should not take part in any kind of bullying. They should talk any problems over with teachers they can trust or social workers stationed at their schools. Schools should treat the protection of students as the top priority. If need be, they can handle academic issues in a more liberal approach temporarily to give teachers more time to get in touch with students. Front‑line teachers should pay close attention to interactions between students to check for any abnormal situations. At the same time they should prevent their personal emotions or political stances from affecting their teaching work.
escort : to go with sb to protect or guard them or to show them the way
plant sth (on sb) : to hide sth, especially sth illegal, in sb's clothing, possessions, etc. so that when it is found it will look as though they committed a crime
light‑hearted : not intended to be serious