KUALA LUMPUR: Schoolchildren are more likely to get involved in fights and bullying if they frequently play violent video games, or watch movies, dramas and animated series whose central theme is violence, according to a psychologist.
Repeatedly watching acts of violence, such as pounding, hitting, slashing or shooting people, can have a negative influence on them, to the extent of them attempting to replicate whatever they have seen on the screen.
Head of Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris’ Department of Psychology and Counselling Dr Aslina Ahmad said research has shown a corelation between watching too much violence and behaviour.
Based on the behavioural approach theory, she explained, an individual can be swayed by certain acts and would mimic them repeatedly, especially if they are encouraged or egged on by their friends.
Children can also become bullies if their close friends have a bad influence on them or if their relationship with their parents are strained.
“It’s worse if they have family members who are bullies themselves because the children will grow up thinking it’s perfectly normal to bully others,” added Aslina.
Stressing that parents play a crucial role in shaping the behaviour of their children, she said any rift in their relationship could lead to their children developing a rebellious streak and indulging in negative activities like bullying.
Explaining a bully’s typical psychological make-up, Aslina said according to the psychoanalytic theory, a person tends to employ the psychological defence mechanism to ward off insecurities and urges buried deeply in their psyche.
“The repressed feelings can cause children to do things without them realising (its harm). They seem to long for something but they suppress that feeling.
“So, they end up unleashing their anger towards their parents on other people, especially those who are (physically) weaker and are not a threat to them,” she said.
Besides children with smaller physiques, those who are less assertive or lack self-confidence and social skills are also often targeted by school bullies.
In their efforts to check bullying in schools, said Aslina, the school authorities should carry out counselling sessions either individually or in groups, as well as monitor their students closely.
Students found to have behavioural problems or moral issues should be made to undergo “rehabilitation”, she added.
Aslina also welcomed a recent proposal by Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid to increase the number of counsellors at schools to help tackle indiscipline among students, but reminded that they should mainly focus on managing problematic students and monitoring their progress, besides implementing preventive and rehabilitative measures.
She said it was unfortunate that many school counsellors were forced to perform administrative and teaching duties or manage various programmes, instead of doing what they were trained to do, which was counselling.
“It will be a good thing to appoint more counsellors who can focus on resolving problems related to students, because this is where their expertise lies,” she added.
Aslina also said that to ensure that their children’s education was not compromised, it was important for parents to collaborate with teachers in their efforts to put a stop to bullying.
She said discussions by parents and teachers should also cover the children’s psychological and spiritual development to ensure that they not only attain academic excellence but also shine in other aspects of their lives.