Students report violent bullying to Jakarta police
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At least four freshmen from Don Bosco high school in Pondok Indah, South Jakarta, claim to have fallen victim to another case of high school bullying, something that is remaining rampant during the much-criticized student orientation program.
South Jakarta Police chief detective Adj. Sr. Comr. Hermawan said in Jakarta on Friday that there were four students who had reported their case to the police. “So far, we have interviewed four victims, as well as their parents,” he said, adding that the student who first reported the case on Wednesday has been identified as Ary, 16. He added that the police had interviewed the three other victims on Friday and can confirm that one of the victims had bruising on his body.
He said that the victims had allegedly been kidnapped by seniors from the school, of which eight were third graders and 10 were alumnus of the school. “If it is proven that the suspects conducted the bullying in a group, they can be charged under Article 170 of the Criminal Code [KUHP] [on joint assault],” said Hermawan. The article carries a maximum punishment of five years’ imprisonment.
The case went public when Sita, a relative of Ary, sent a message on Twitter on Wednesday about her nephew’s condition. “We took [Ary] to the hospital. His abdomen and face were full of bruises and he had marks on his neck from cigarette burns. His seniors did this to him,” she said on her Twitter account @shintwitt on Wednesday.
Don Bosco vice principal Gerardus Gantur denied the allegation that the bullying occurred during the school’s student orientation program, known as MOS. “It occurred on Tuesday after school hours, not during MOS, which was held from July 17 to 19,” he told The Jakarta Post in a phone interview.
According to Gerardus, on Tuesday at about 1:45 p.m., seven junior high school students were reportedly taken by senior high students to Pertok Taman Hijau Baru in Pondok Indah. The junior students, he said, were then told to sit down and keep their eyes down. About 18 Don Bosco seniors and alumnus covered the junior students’ heads with jackets before slapping, beating and burning them with lit cigarettes. The younger students were told to turn off their cell phones before the assault took place. After reportedly being subjected to violence until about 10 p.m., they were told to go home by taxi.
“We will wait for a verdict from the police.” Gerardus said. “If it is proven that the suspects are guilty, we will let the parents decide what action they will take, as stipulated in our rules.”
He also urged parents to monitor their children’s activities and social lives, as bullying cases often occured after class hours and outside the school. “We have done all we can do to prevent bullying at the school. But society sometimes sees the schools as the only ones responsible for their students,” he said. “It is up to the parents to monitor their children after school hours.”
National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas PA) chairman Arist Merdeka Sirait, meanwhile, said the management of Don Bosco high school was responsible for finding a solution. “Neither the perpetrators nor the victims should have to leave the school. This case needs to be settled peacefully. I am sure that they [the police] will find the best solution for everyone,” he said.
Bullying has been long associated with MOS, as seniors see the period as an opportunity to bully their juniors. While some schools have taken measures to make sure the orientation week is no longer a nightmare to parents and students, bullying is something that may happen at any time.
There have been at least three cases of bullying reported since 2009, all occurring outside MOS. The only case of alleged excessive physical activities during MOS occurred last year, when Amanda Putri Lubis, 16, a new student at SMUN 9 High School in Serua subdistrict, Ciputat, South Tangerang, passed away after she participated in the school’s three-day-orientation program. (han/yps/aml)