Singapore

Aware survey: More than 50% of schoolboys used violence

More than half of schoolboys here have hit, punched, shoved or spat on another boy while in secondary school.

More than four-fifths have taunted another for being "girly" or not being "manly" enough.

These were found from a survey of 809 teens aged 17 and 18 by women's rights group Aware.

The results, said Aware researcher Chong Ning Qian, are alarming. She found that those who were teased are more likely to go on to bully other boys.

Aware surveyed boys after a campaign to end violence against women found men were also "victims of violence because of gender stereotyping".

From October 2015 to March last year, it surveyed students from junior colleges, polytechnics and institutes of technical education.

The boys were asked whether their peers told them to "man up", "stop being such a girl" or to not cry - a practice Aware calls gender policing - and if they experienced or committed violence.

A whopping 84 per cent admitted to verbally bullying another, by insulting a boy for being feminine or weak and calling him a "sissy" or "gay".

A lower - but still significant - proportion resort to physically bullying: 29 per cent gave a schoolmate a wedgie by yanking his underwear; 54 per cent hit, punched, shoved or spat on another; and 69 per cent took part in a practice called 'taupok' where boys pile on a target.

Aware then compared the experiences of the respondents and concluded that those told by peers to "man up" were four times as likely to then physically bully other boys.

Ms Chong said: "In our survey, the vast majority have been gender-policed and are more likely to commit violence. That's a very big group of people."

But Mr Alfred Tan, chief executive of Singapore Children's Society, questioned if the acts reported in the survey were meant to cause harm.

"If they're doing it because they are reacting to something, like if they were playing basketball and jostling, I don't classify that as violence. Boys tend to be a bit more physical. To be violent you have to have the intention to harm someone."

Aware is holding a dialogue on how boys use violence to enforce gender norms today at 7pm at their centre.

FOR MORE, READ THE STRAITS TIMES TODAY

bullyingSecondary SchoolAware