A class of about 30 students from New Town Secondary School gathered on Feb 25 to watch a video about cyber bullying.
The video shows a group of schoolmates, one of whom is being bullied by another character and her friends while a mutual friend mulls over what he should do.
In class, the teacher paused the video at certain points, asking the Secondary 2 students what they would do and getting them to vote on different actions.
The teacher also showed the class various scenarios that play out based on their votes, and got the students to think about them.
This is an example of a cyber-wellness class on trial this year at several secondary schools, as part of a new Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) curriculum, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said in Parliament yesterday.
“To me, the lesson that day was quite clear: If you encounter cyber bullying, seek help and support, don’t retaliate,” Mr Ong said.
“This is one way we are using more authentic scenarios, immersive modalities, and giving students’ more voice and agency to bring CCE to life,” he added.
Ms Rozaina Rusli, New Town Secondary’s head of department for student welfare, said that while the school has its own cyber-wellness programmes, the video helps to elicit students’ responses.
“The video is almost like a drama or a game, and it feels real to the students because they can choose their actions,” said Ms Rozaina.
To encourage its students to look out for one another, New Town Secondary has, since 2017, also appointed peer support leaders. Each class has at least two such leaders, and they are trained to spot friends in distress, listen to their problems and empathise with them.
Ms Rozaina said the peer support leaders have since brought to the school’s attention several cases of students who need further help.
The issues faced by them included stress related to studies, friendship and family problems, as well as anger management.
Students, in general, have said they prefer to confide in their friends instead of adults.
Peer support leader Lim Tay Peng, 15, said: “Sometimes, teachers or parents will tell us to just focus on our studies, but friends understand how we feel, so it’s more comforting.”
The Secondary 4 student said that cyber bullying and the fear of being judged or made fun of are just two of the issues that teenagers face.
“When I know my friends need help, I text or call them to make sure they’re okay, share with them my past experiences, and check in on them more frequently,” she said.
Another Secondary 4 peer support leader, Bram Agil, said listening is one of the most helpful ways of supporting her peers.
“People feel better when they rant about their problems instead of keeping them all to themselves. It relieves their stress,” said the 15-year-old.
Published at Wed, 04 Mar 2020 13:19:00 +0000