Students lead dialogue about keeping safe in and around school and online
KUALA LUMPUR, 8 August 2018 - "I was bullied verbally, and isolated by my peers. My parents gave me support and I learned how to depend on myself and believe that good things will come no matter what. Adults should take their children's problems seriously – such as depression – like my parents did. I hope that everyone in the session will be able to spread positivity in their schools and build a community from the bottom to the top with full positive change," said Fina Aileen Soraya, age 16 from Selangor.
A global survey* issued by UNICEF on World Children's Day 2017 revealed that almost 7 out of 10 children in Malaysia worry a lot about bullying. Children in Malaysia also have serious concerns for other global issues, such as violence against children (64%), and terrorism (60%). The same survey found that 95% of children in Malaysia believed that the world would be a better place for children if their leaders would listen to the voice of children.
Fina was just one of the over 50 school children from across Malaysia who converged today at the #ENDViolence Youth Talk to discuss and contribute their thoughts on violence online and in school. The #ENDViolence Youth Talk, co-organised by Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd (“Digi”) and UNICEF Malaysia, aimed to raise awareness about bullying in school and online, and its impacts on both children and the community. It is one in a series of UNICEF's global initiative of student-led discussion taking place around the world. The voices will be channelled to shape a global youth manifesto that will be presented to world leaders.
"UNICEF is committed to address bullying in all its forms and ensure that mechanisms are in place to protect children and young people from its negative effects. In schools, children flourish when they are given a safe, learning environment which encourages responsible citizenship" said Marianne Clark-Hattingh, UNICEF Representative to Malaysia. "The #ENDViolence Youth Talk provides a safe platform for young people to say for themselves, openly discuss and contribute to how they want to end violence; and when children speak, we must listen."
Philip Ling, Digi's Head of Sustainability, said that Digi's partnership with UNICEF Malaysia in co-organising today's #ENDViolence Youth Talk hope to raise the voices of children around their concerns towards society's failure to act and the ineffective interventions on issues around child online violence.
"The #ENDViolence Youth Talk is part of Digi’s Yellow Heart commitment to reduce inequalities on the internet through strengthening digital resilience amongst those most vulnerable in the digital world. Studies have found that lower secondary schoolchildren were found to engage more in cyberbullying activities (both victims and bullies) than upper secondary participants. Our children have spoken boldly that what matters most for them include a safer internet space. As Malaysia’s digital life partner, we want to be part of the solution to enabling digital inclusion by empowering Malaysians with access to the internet and at the same time protect and equip both children and adults with the right skills to recognise and counter these rising risks," Philip added.
Engaging in the dialogue session were YB Nurul Izzah Anwar, MP for Permatang Pauh; and YB P. Prabakaran, MP for Batu; as well as Lisa Surihani, UNICEF National Ambassador to Malaysia and Siwon Choi, UNICEF Special Representative from South Korea. Dr. Goh Chee Leong, Professor of Psychology, HELP University; Philip Ling, Digi's Head of Sustainability; and Marianne Clark-Hattingh, UNICEF Representative to Malaysia were also part of the panel discussion.
South Korean celebrity, Siwon Choi, encouraged young people around the world to share what they need to feel safe in and around school using the hashtags #ENDViolence and #SafeToLearn.
In April 2018, in conjunction with the inaugural National Kindness Week led by R.AGE, Digi and UNICEF Malaysia alongside the Malaysian Ministry of Education and other partners co-organised the nationwide #StandTogether campaign. As part of the campaign, over 750 schools nationwide participated in over 100 student-led projects to curb bullying with kindness in the school environment.