The Accident Compensation Commission Fiji (ACCF) chief executive Parvez Akbar supports recent calls to address bullying and says all forms including physical, verbal and cyber-bullying must be addressed.
Akbar said bullying should be addressed wherever it occurs, including schools and workplaces.
He said since 1 January 2019, ACCF has received a total of 852 notifications for school accidents resulting in serious injuries and 85 of these notifications are for serious injuries as a result of assault to pupils in schools.
From applications that ACCF has received, the examples of school assaults include fractured arm when a student was pushed him down a slope, pupil lost his teeth after being punched by another pupil, pupil was punched by his classmate when he confronted him for taking his stationary, pupil threw stones at another pupil causing serious injuries to the latter, pupil was punched by his classmate during a verbal altercation, pupil was poked in the eye during an argument, pupil was intentionally tackled by another student and pupil was punched in the stomach while washing his hands.
“It is important for there to be consequences for individuals who bully others. The consequences need to be proportionate to the circumstances and can include a combination of disciplinary action and skills development,” said Akbar.
He said research suggests that bullying should be viewed as a socio-ecological phenomenon and not just an interpersonal interaction between the bully and the target.
“This view looks beyond the individual and acknowledges the multiple risk and protective factors that exist within individuals, peer groups, families, schools, communities, and the wider social environment.”
“We need to explore how the community around students may influence their behaviour.”
Akbar added that controlling authorities of schools are legally obliged to report any personal injury or death as a result of a school accident pursuant to the Accident Compensation (School Accidents) Regulations 2018.