New Taipei has most bullying cases

There were 126 campus bullying cases in New Taipei City last year, accounting for the highest portion of 800 cases nationwide and eclipsing the 111 cases in southern Kaohsiung City and 53 cases in Taipei.

Taoyuan County reported 70 bullying cases in last year.

Lin Teng-jiao, head of the Department of Education, said bullying in schools in New Taipei City should not be necessarily more serious considering the fact that the area has the highest number of students, at 500,000.

Another factor could be the enforcement of regulations requiring schools to faithfully report all cases to the authorities, he said.

But Lin promised to step up efforts to contain bullying problems.

He said the municipal government and his department have already implemented various measures, including assigning more volunteers and "campus guardian angels" to constantly conduct regular inspection tours on all campuses for bullying prevention.

Other steps include launching publicity campaigns against bullying, posting more school counselors, psychologists, and social workers to help rectify misconduct and provide assistance to victims.

All schools are also instructed to keep in close contact with the parents associations and the police department for multiple-pronged actions to contain and eliminate bullying.

Data compiled by the Ministry of Education (MOE) show that the number of students committing suicides and committing self-harm also shot up to 43 cases last year from 19 cases the year earlier in New Taipei City.

Four of the students died prematurely while one sustained grave injuries resulting from self-inflected acts.

Lin acknowledged the comparatively high number of incidents. He said the city will update textbooks to increase lessons on life education,

MOE officials encouraged all schools to actively report such incidents instead of covering them up.

The said romantic relationship now account for 22.5 per cent of the major causes of suicides committed by teenagers.

Mental disorders like depression came in next with 12.2 per cent, followed by academic pressure at 8.9 per cent.

They suggested school teachers and administrators maintain close contract with parents to jointly tackle the problems arising from these major causes.

Some experts pointed out that the government should sponsor more courses for parents to help them more effectively help children cope with the problems they face.

The parents and students themselves may also seek counseling and help by dialing the "1995" help line for assistance, they suggested.