Student bullies teacher by pulling her bra strap
HE was a 15-year-old student and a bully.
She was timid and his teacher.
Last May, the student pulled her bra strap during a physical education lesson.
The incident left her humiliated in front of the other students. They started laughing at the teacher,whois in her late 20s.
To make matters worse, she realised later that another student had maliciously recorded the incident on his mobile phone and uploaded it on YouTube.
This served as a catalyst for her breakdown, said the founder of Coalition Against Bullying for Children and Youths (CABCY), Esther Ng, 47, who related the teacher's story to The New Paper.
She also counsels adults.
Madam Ng, a psychotherapist, said the teacher had approached CABCY, a non-profit organisation, as she needed help coping with the episode.
Formed in 2005, CABCY runs workshops in schools for students, teachers and parents on how to deal with bullying. CABCY also offers consultation services to schools, organisations, parents and students on topics related to bullying.
Madam Ng said the teacher tried to recover from the first incident, but when one of her students showed her the video on the Internet, she went on a downward spiral.
"This teacher was humiliated and stripped of her power two times - the first time when the student sexually harassed her by flicking her bra strap and the second when another student maliciously used his mobile phone to record the incident and then uploaded and circulated the video."
She added: "She had to see a psychiatrist and was on anti-depressants."
"She was so humiliated and kept wondering who else had seen the video. It completely shattered her. She couldn't get out of bed and kept crying all the time." The video was taken down soon after it was posted online, said Madam Ng.
She said the teacher went on medical leave for one month soon after the episode.
She continued to take medical leave four or five times a month until February this year.
The teacher decided not to make a police report as she didn't want to make a big deal of a student bullying her.
Madam Ng declined to reveal more as she said the teacher is still fragile, even a year after the incident. She said the teacher was bullied because she was an easy target.
She said: "She is a nice and non-assertive person who will say yes to anything so she is a natural target for bullies.
"When her superiors come up to her with extra work, she would not say no even though she already had much to do. That was part of the problem."
Madam Ng said the teacher is learning to be more assertive in school.
"She is a bit better now, she has stopped taking medical leave and has gone off medication."
Madam Ng said the teacher told her that the incident was resolved by the principal and was not referred to the Ministry of Education (MOE).
As she declined to give us the name of the teacher or the school, this could not be verified. Speaking in general on teachers being bullied in school, an MOE spokesman said that teachers have many channels to go to if they have been abused.
She said: "Typically, teachers who have concerns can raise them to their supervisors or beyond to their school leaders... They also have access to their Cluster Superintendent, MOE's Personnel Division and Senior Management."
When asked about dealing with such students, the spokesman said schools may use disciplinary measures where appropriate and have the autonomy to decide on the approach, taking into consideration the students' level of maturity and intent.
The spokesman added: "More importantly, we believe disciplinary measures need to be coupled with an educational approach by providing the necessary counselling and guidance."
Psychiatrist Adrian Wang at Gleneagles Medical Centre said he sees cases of teachers being bullied in school a couple of times a year.
He said: "I see many teachers and some of them complain of being bullied by their superiors and even their students and they get depressed as a result."
Dr Wang said that in the last three years, he has observed a shift in the kind of students and parents that teachers have to deal with.
He said: "Students are becoming more demanding and so are parents. They are not as supportive as they used to be in the past."
Seven principals and nine teachers The New Paper spoke to said they have heard of teachers being bullied though such cases are quite rare.
The principals said that they train their teachers to handle boisterous students.
They also hire more experienced teachers and they also give teachers an avenue to talk.
Mrs Fanny Tan, vice-principal of Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), said: "Our teachers are experienced and know how to deal with the boys and conduct themselves in a classroom.
"Boys can be very vocal, but they know we do not tolerate rudeness and teachers should be respected.
"If teachers cannot handle a class, we will get a mentor who will sit in with them... New teachers also have a mentor who accompanies them during lessons and helps them during their first few weeks."