Serious action needed to
stop student brawls: Expert

Student brawls have been a worryingly regular occurrence over the years, an expert says, as seen in the recent m*l*e between state senior high schools SMAN 70 and SMAN 6 in Bulungan, South Jakarta.

"Schools and the police should hand down strict punishment, including legal action, to the guilty students, because it's a crime," Ratih Ibrahim, an urban psychologist, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

"The shock therapy will make them think again *before getting involved in violence*."

She pointed out an all-boys' school in the city that had successfully enforced strict rules and effective counseling to stop brawls that had been frequent since the 1990s.

On Monday, a brawl reportedly broke out at SMAN 70 during a musical performance to mark the Independence Day.

Local TV stations broadcast video of two groups of young boys wearing casual clothes, as well as residents, attacking each other with bamboo sticks.

The feud between the two schools has been a long-running tradition over the years. Last October, the schools gained widespread notoriety after students clashed on the streets during the Islamic month of Ramadan.

Ratih said another effective way to end the feuding culture was to involve the schools' graduates in counseling the students.

"It's often the case that graduates encourage the brawl," she said.

"It'd be more effective if the school appointed a respected graduate to be a role model for the students."

She added myths handed down from seniors to juniors about feuds and apparent enemies were perpetuated to create a sense of school identity and belonging.

"The feuds have little personal significance for the brawlers, but they get involved anyway because it gives them a sense of loyalty to their schools," Ratih said, adding personal conflicts worsened by stereotype usually triggered brawls.

She said most quarrels involve male students seeking a vent for their pent-up aggression, and who saw a fight as an easy.

Jakarta Education Agency head Taufik Yudi said he had asked school principals to cooperate with the police in investigating their students' involvement in brawls.

He said he believed the two schools had been firm about expelling rowdy students.

Taufik said he had also asked the principals to take creative approaches as part of prevention efforts to keep students out of fights.

Rivalry between educational institutions also occurs between vocational schools and universities.

Students at state technical school SKN 27 in Pasar Baru, Central Jakarta, claim to be afraid of going near technical school STM 1, nicknamed "Boedoet" after its location on Jl. Budi Utomo, also in Central Jakarta.

Students at YAI Persada Indonesia University and the Christian University of Indonesia (UKI) have been involved in large-scale clashes since the 1990s, forcing the Central Jakarta Police to install CCTV cameras between the neighboring campuses.

The area around the two campuses, on Jl. Diponegoro, Central Jakarta, has been marked a "hot zone", with frequent violent brawls causing traffic jams, vandalism, fires and injuries.

The police, in cooperation with the city administration, has spent Rp 30 million (US$3,000) building a police post equipped with eight CCTV cameras. Two cameras are directed at UKI, two at YAI, while the other four scan the street.

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