Slider
Slider

|

Slider

Horrific viral video reveals 'crisis' of school bullying in Fiji

Regional News
Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

SUVA (The Guardian/Pacnews) — A horrific video of high school students beating a classmate that went viral in Fiji recently has prompted calls for a national inquiry into what is being dubbed a “crisis” of bullying in schools in the Pacific nation.

Opposition members of Parliament, civil society organizations and experts are calling for an inquiry into what they claim is a “phenomenal” level of violence in schools, which some claim reflects a broader problem of violence in the country including high rates of domestic violence, police abuse and a “coup culture” in politics.

The three-minute video, which was reportedly taken last year, first appeared online on March 1. It was viewed and shared thousands of times on Facebook, causing national uproar, before it was removed from the social media platform.

It shows three boys in school uniform beating a fourth boy with a piece of timber, as well as hitting him and jeering at him, as he cries. The incident took place at Ratu Kadavulevu School in Tailevu, about an hour’s drive from the capital, Suva.

The school’s alumni include national leaders such as former prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, Fijian diplomats and some of the country’s best rugby players.

The country’s current prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, said he was “sickened and outraged” by the footage.

“It broke my heart — I saw my own children and grand-children in him, as I’m sure all parents did,” Bainimarama wrote in a statement.

Sitiveni Rabuka, leader of the opposition and a former prime minister, has called for a commission of inquiry into the education ministry’s policies on school bullying and violence.

There were 6,594 recorded cases of bullying in primary and secondary schools across Fiji last year, according to a report from the education ministry.

The three boys have been charged with assault and appeared at the Sigatoka magistrate’s court. But there has been public anger that it took so long for the case to be reported to police when the assault was first reported to the education ministry last year.

Vijay Naidu, a former sociology professor at the University of the South Pacific, and prominent Fijian academic, said the video revealed deeper and more serious problems about the culture of bullying and violence in Fiji.

“Bullying has been a longstanding problem…in schools and in many other institutions,” said Naidu. “Assaults are very common in the business of violence against women and sexual minorities. It’s all part of that continuum of violence.”

Fiji has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the world, with 64% of women in the country experiencing physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner.

Naidu said Fiji’s coup culture was also an example of how entrenched the problem is. There were four violent coups between 1987 and 2006 in Fiji. Both Bainimarama and Rabuka came to power in coups.

“The fact that people resort to bullets over ballots in this country is a prime example of the resort to the use of physical force,” he said. “In Fiji, because of the business of the coups and all that, it’s like might is right. The soldiers resorted to this and they have enjoyed impunity. The police and prison people have resorted to brutality.”

Fijian psychologist, Selina Kuruleca, said the data from the education ministry confirmed that school bullying is a “national crisis,” and that while the factors contributing to it are manifold, including the fact teachers are “overworked and underpaid” and struggling to mange “too many kids in one classroom,” the example of violence among adults also plays a role.

“We also need to make sure that the rules apply right across the board. For our national leaders, we need to be mindful of our behavior not only in private places but also in our public space,” she said.

Last year, Bainimarama was accused of assault by Pio Tikoduadua, an opposition member of Parliament for the National Federation Party, who alleged the prime minister grabbed and shoved him outside Fiji’s parliament in Suva, causing his glasses to fall to the ground and break.

No assault charges were laid against Bainimarama, despite the country’s department of public prosecutions ruling there was “sufficient evidence for the matter to proceed to court.”


previous arrow
next arrow
Shadow
Slider

Read more articles

Visit our Facebook Page

previous arrow
next arrow
Shadow
Slider