School counseling

A form six student jumped to his death from the 4th floor of a school building a few days ago. He jumped minutes after attending a counseling session with a teacher in charge of counseling. He was sent to the teacher by another teacher in charge of discipline. The later called him up after receiving a complaint that he bumped into a girl..

This is an unfortunate death which could have been avoided.

There are a lot of unanswered questions.

First, whether actual bumping into the girl had occurred;  if it had, did he do it intentionally or accidentally? Bumping accidentally into a person of opposite sex can hardly be called ‘molesting’; there is a world of difference between the two.

Secondly, why did the discipline teacher send the boy for counseling? Did he think that the boy was guilty and thus send him for counseling? If so, did he make a thorough check first and get eye witness account for the incident before coming to the guilt conclusion? Or did he send the boy for counseling for other reasons?

It is of course unfair to blame the discipline and counseling teachers, since we do not know what actually transpired at the sessions.

But a life is lost here, and thus there must be a review of the whole system to present similar incidents from occurring.

Are those who provide counseling in schools trained for this? A good counselor needs to have a good basis of human psychology , especially teen psychology. There is in fact a new branch of psychology called ‘counseling psychology’, and in the States, all who do counseling must go through the course in counseling psychology.

We must understand that teenagers are very sensitive beings. This is especially so nowadays, compared to a few decades ago.

When I was young, it was usual for teachers to scold us and punish us for even small mistakes, and sometimes even for no reasons at all.  We were comparatively thick-skinned, so to speak, and less sensitive , since almost everyone would be punished at one time or another. To be scolded by own parents and teachers were considered the norm, and nothing shameful nor was it a big deal.  Even when wrong punishment were meted out, we accepted it as a fact of life, and most of us would not even let our own parents  know about the punishment.

Life was much stricter then, and freedom mush less.

Nowadays, the world is changing, and children are seldom reprimanded or punished when growing up.. Children and teenagers are much more sensitive as a result, and much more protected.  Thus, to them  even a reprimand becomes a big thing; an insinuation of wrong doing would be like the end of the world, so to speak.

In  such environment, those doing counseling must be very gentle and  subtle when handling cases which can potentially bring shame to the student/s being counseled.

The authority would do well to send those in charge of counseling for a special course, on finer technic of counseling as well as teenage psychology.  Those doing counseling must also be deemed to have compassion and empathy.  This applies to discipline teacher as well.

The boy jumped minutes after the counseling session. He must be feeling very bitter and disappointed with the session. Did the counseling teacher notice these? If so, why let the boy go? If he did not notice this, then perhaps a re-evaluation of his role is in order.

A life has been lost and the loss could at least have some meaning if the whole system is re-evaluated, and  further loss of lives prevented.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. monsterball
    Jul 02, 2011 @ 17:13:03

    Have the Education Minister make any comment?
    Has he visited the school?
    Of course not…it is death and leave it to the police.
    Our Govt is focusing on Communists…foreign invaders.
    The word “BERSIH” makes all very time for this.


  2. Kenny
    Jul 03, 2011 @ 08:28:48

    This is a tragic case of insensitive handling by the school. An accusation of intentional bumping is easy to make but did the teacher make the effort to find out the truth before sending the boy for counselling? Or was the boy merely pushed off to another teacher for counselling because the teacher did not have the time or did not bother? Now that the boy has taken his own life we can see that he is a very sensitive person and the charge is unlikely to be true.

    The school defended itself by saying that the boy was not punished. This is pathetic as sending him for counselling is already judging him as guilty. The boy probably took his life because of shame. Imagine if you were falsely accused of molesting a child and the police just send you to a psychiatrist for counselling? Even if you were not charged in court how would you feel in the eyes of your community? You would certainly feel great shame.

    If I were the father I would demand an apology from the school or take legal action for defamation of my son’s name unless the school comes up with proof of his guilt. It won’t bring back my son but it would make the teachers take more care so future tragedies can be prevented.


  3. Derek Poh
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 10:22:44

    I remember reading from a newspaper that the counselling teacher did tell the press that the boy confessed what was accused of him doing. While it is not fair to blame the school for such a tragedy, what is more unfair would be these people trying to portray a picture of the student committed suicide out of guilt. It is unwise and unfair to say things which the deceased can never refute.


  4. laikeekong
    Jul 06, 2011 @ 18:41:05

    The kid’s mental problem was not started by the counselling. His low esteem probably has its cause in his home. On his relationship with his parents, siblings and friends. The parents could have caught it in its infancy if they are aware of it but these things are tricky. People are busy nowadays , chasing after the material wealth. Let’s not blame the teachers. They could not have known. Most probably the pressure heaped upon the kid the excel by the parents is the cause.


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