Indonesia; Coping With Social Acceptance of Violence in Elementary Schools

Written by Eva Fatmawaty and Saadia Haq (The  author of The human Lens)

Violence has always been part of societies in some form or other and it’s not bound to specific geographical locations. And school violence, basically, is any form of violent activity that takes place within the premises of schools. Usually it is perpetuated by students themselves, school administration staff and teaching faculty and can take soft to hard forms through bullying, verbal abuse, brawls, physical fights and in some cases using arm shooting.

Violence within schools is not new to Indonesia, a country where societal norms make it acceptable the use of stick for disciplining children and youngsters. Recently there was a public outcry after a youtube video was uploaded focusing the incident of an elementary school student (Kekerasan Anak SD).

The video contained explicit footage of a female student being bullied by several of her class mates. She was cornered by the bully group of five assailants that kicked and punched her, while the rest of the classroom either ignored or watched on.

This incident sent shock waves within the Indonesian society and has raised many disturbing arguments. Indonesia has the fourth largest population in the world, with one third making children. The Indonesian State Minister for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, Ms. Linda Gumelar, recently stated that the country is facing great constraints in mainstreaming child rights issues and there is a huge need for improving the capacity to deliver better protection of children.

The recent traumatizing event hints deeper issues at work here. The incident cannot be ignored solely in isolation because the alarming statistics of this year’s survey conducted by the National Child Protection Commission.

A high percentage of 87.6 percent of 1,026 children respondents said that they suffered from mental, physical or verbal abuse, ranging from name calling to beatings. More ever, the classmates were identified as the source of bullying by 42.1 percent of respondents. Then ill-treatment of school going children is also reported to have happened at the hands of the administration and teachers at a ratio of 29.9% and 28% of abuse is perpetuated by non-teaching personnel such as janitors and security guards.

The Indonesian government struggles to enact strong measures for better child protection during educational lives, but is clearly lagging behind. The State constitution says that “that every citizen has the right to an education and for that 20% of the state budget is allocated for making it a possibility.” But owing to the greater demands due to booming population, the State is barely making to the minimum standards for education, let alone putting anti-bullying mechanism in schooling systems.

Inside Indonesia, this harrowing gap is being filled by developmental organizations. One such organization is PLAN-International whose Indonesia based work is focusing on “Learn Without Fear Campaign.” It aims to end violence in schools and work on the betterment of engaging with children and parents for bringing positive life changes.

Violence is an outrageous violation of children’s fundamental rights. Now the question begets? What really happened to the little girl that was bullied at the SD Trisula Perwari private elementary school in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra? Where was the teacher at the time of the incident?

The elementary investigative team states that one enabling factor was the teacher’s negligence. How come this could happen during an Islamic religion lesson at the school? Does this mean that Indonesian parents should demand more checks to be placed on the religious teachers qualifications for adequate supervision for pupils. Otherwise, how could it be possible that a little girl’s beating went neglected and unreported till late?


Source citation:

  1. PLAN Indonesia Learn Without Fear Campaign
  2. National Child Protection Commission, 2014 Report

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