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School CP - May 2011

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The New Paper, Singapore, 31 May 2011

Caned for their Facebook spat

Two students disciplined after online exchange spirals to threats

By Benson Ang

Click to enlarge

IT STARTED out as a simple exchange between two boys on Facebook.

But it quickly escalated into an online spat, in which names and threats of a fight were hurled.

The exchange landed both boys in trouble with the school, which was alerted to the incident.

In the end, both were caned on the buttocks in the office of the disciplinary master yesterday.

It all started on Tuesday, when Saint Andrew's Secondary School student Brandon Lim, 15, had an online conversation with his schoolmate Davis Ng, 14.

Davis, a Sec 2 student, encouraged Brandon, who is in Sec 3, to "break (the) nose" of another student.

He also boasted that he had "(kicked the) face" of someone previously. These comments, along with others, angered Brandon, who then turned on Davis.

The older boy challenged his junior to meet outside their school on Wednesday afternoon to fight. Davis initially agreed to a one-on-one fight without any weapons.

He even called Brandon a name and posted: "I just like to fight and have martial arts".

But when Brandon said he would call his friends along, Davis backed out. He posted that he was "scared" and didn't expect Brandon would get others to join in the fight.

The younger boy even apologised for calling Brandon a name, and said he didn't know why they were fighting.

Davis posted: "I seriously just want to make friends with you only."

But Brandon continued to taunt Davis, calling him names and daring him to inform the teachers and the police.

He said that if he met Davis either at NEX or Junction 8 shopping malls, the younger boy "won't go home without injuries".

On Wednesday, Brandon posted on Facebook that seven of his friends had waited for Davis. He and his friends intended to "slash and run", he said.

But Davis had apparently told a teacher about the exchange.

Brandon posted: "Knowing that my friends are coming for you, (you go) straight back to school to complain...

"You are only safe for now, but not safe after (the) holidays begin. (The school doesn't) have 24/7 security on you, so just wait for the holidays to begin.

"If holiday can't find (you), then no choice, first day when school reopens."

The school's June holidays start today.

But on Thursday night, Brandon had a change of heart and posted: "What's done is done. I'm letting this go, no point carrying on like this.

"Davis, tomorrow we get cane together. Forget about it and really do enjoy your holidays."

When contacted, the school's principal, Mrs Lucy Toh, told The New Paper in an e-mail that the students have been disciplined and counselled.

She said: "The two boys have come to realise the serious consequences that their Facebook comments could have caused."

She added that teachers educate students on cyberwellness and also interact with students on their Facebook pages to encourage positive online interaction.

"Social media is a tool that has to be used constructively and responsibly.

"(In general), we observed that the students' online interactions have generally been positive, with students encouraging each other in their studies.


"We will also continue to work with parents to educate our students to interact responsibly."

When contacted yesterday, Brandon confirmed that the matter had been laid to rest.

He said both boys were given one stroke of the cane each in the disciplinary master's office yesterday.

The two boys also apologised to each other and shook hands.

Brandon told TNP: "The school said if we want to continue this, both will get involved in some police case.

"There's no point...If I go and find him, he'll come find me. It'll never end."

When asked why he threatened Davis in the first place, Brandon would only say that it was over "some nonsense".

"It's nothing, we were quarrelling for nothing," he said.

Brandon also said he has spoken to the school counsellor about the matter, and will go on an overseas trip soon to "get out of Singapore for a while".

Davis could not be reached for comment.

Brandon's taunts have attracted over 1,500 comments on online forum HardwareZone, mostly poking fun at the students and with some suggesting Brandon be suspended.

There were some netizens who also made general comments about the young.

One said: "What is wrong with the youths these days?

Why they acting like they (are) in some triad drama?

The Ministry of Education (MOE) is aware of the incident. An MOE spokesman told TNP in an e-mail that it is important that students understand the nature of social media and the consequences of their online interactions.

She said: "In terms of conflicts that arise among students, schools use disciplinary measures where appropriate and provide the necessary counselling and guidance to the students involved."

MOE supports schools with resource packages to customise their cyberwellness activities to meet their students' needs, the spokesman added.

"Managing cyberwellness requires a concerted effort by all stakeholders.

"MOE will continue to collaborate with parents, schools, community groups and other government agencies to strengthen efforts in educating our young on the responsible use of the Internet."

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