Sun, 23 Jun 2002

How would you do to stop student brawls?

Monique Natalia, Contributor, Jakarta

In some parts of Jakarta, stones flying and kids running around waving machetes and knives are not unusual sights. This is how bad student brawls have become. Six mall-goers try to find a solution to this seemingly never-ending problem.

Anggi, 16, South Jakarta: I've never actually been involved in a student brawl, but I have often seen students, especially high school students, fighting with each other, particularly around the Lebak Bulus area. Fortunately, kids from my school never get involved in student brawls.

I think what people need to do to stop student brawls is to try and make more friends outside of their own schools. Most kids only hang out with kids from their own school. When they go out and meet kids wearing a different school uniform who so much as look at them funny, they get really annoyed and some even start calling each other names, and they usually end up getting in a fight. So, I think it would be better if kids tried to hang out with kids from different schools.

By doing that, they would know that there are some people out there who are nice too, not just people from their own school. The good thing is that when they become good friends with people from a different school, they wouldn't want to do them any harm, right? So they would try to stop a brawl, if one did break out between their school and their friend's school.

Another thing that parents could do to stop student brawls is take their kids to see victims of student brawls. You know, just take them to the hospital where the victims are and just let them see with their own eyes how bad the consequences are of getting into a fight.

Also, they should encourage their kids to be more religious and get closer to God. They have to realize that it is a sin to hurt other people, even if you do hate them.

Intan, 17, South Jakarta: My driver often has to get his son out of jail because of his involvement in student brawls. Sometimes he also gets caught carrying sharp objects, like machetes and what have you.

Another kid that lives just across the street from me got beaten up once by kids from another school. I don't know why, but I just know that it is not right to beat up someone just because you have a grudge against them. It is also no use getting involved in student brawls.

I think one thing that can be done to stop student brawls is to hold some kind of a gathering of different schools, you know, like a friendship gathering or an event with a central theme of peace. It could consist of music, art shows, dance, just something fun so they forget about their rivalry.

Schools should also give lectures and training about how to control their emotions. By learning how to control their emotions, they could also learn how to avoid getting into a fight. The government should also implement a policy that gives harsher punishment to kids involved in student brawls.

Now, when kids get caught in a student brawl, they only have to go to the police station, call their parents and have the parents pick them up, without spending even one night in jail. I think they also should be put in special rehab centers. I think the government should take this problem more seriously, because the consequences can be very bad.

Sometimes it even victimizes people who aren't even involved in a brawl. Like one of my relatives, for example. One day he was slashed with a machete by kids from a rival school just because he was wearing the uniform of his school. I just wish that all these student brawls would stop, because it's hurting innocent people.

Bintang, 18, South Jakarta: I don't really know any victims of student brawls, but I have seen student brawls either on TV or on the street. It is really scary. Before I went out today, I saw on the news that there had been a student brawl. I think some people died as a result. It's just so sad.

I think sometimes people not involved in brawls also get hurt. All the brawls are pointless. They are no use to anyone and only hurt people, so I really think something has to be done to stop them.

Another bad thing that comes out of all these student brawls is that people become more suspicious of students in uniforms. Like what I saw on TV just now, there was this guy who was just carrying a stack of books walking along and suddenly he got busted.

And for what? It turned out that the cops saw that he was wearing a belt and thought that it could have been used as a weapon. I mean, he was wearing glasses, for God's sake! So now people see kids wearing school uniforms and they think we're criminals. It is so unfair!

I think the only way to stop the brawls would have to come from the person's own conscience. They have to realize that student brawls are a bad thing and that they need to be stopped. Even if they go to rehab centers and what have you makes no difference if they do not believe it themselves. It has to come from the inside.

That's not to say that what the government is doing, like busting people carrying weapons and objects that can be used in fights, does not work. I guess it works up to a point. At least if there were more weapon searches by the police, people would be afraid to carry weapons, so it could prevent them from hurting people.

Deta, 14, South Jakarta: When I went to Bakti Mulya school, every Friday and Saturday I used to exit the school gate to see students from another school fighting in front of our school. Fortunately my school did not get involved, but nevertheless it was pretty scary. I used to wonder what really made those guys so angry at each other.

What if an innocent person gets hurt?

I have also seen students chasing a bus with stones and knives and whatever they could get their hands on because students from a rival school were on the bus. It was really scary. I just hope that no one got hurt.

I think the only way to stop student brawls is to get those kids who are always involved in brawls together, and give them an understanding about the dangers and consequences of student brawls. You know, how they can hurt innocent people and stuff. From what I know, student brawls usually start from name calling, so I think these kids need to be told that all schools are the same so that they stop calling other schools bad names just for the heck of it.

Another thing that could be done by the government is to beef up security in areas where there is a tendency for student brawls. They should have more cops patrolling those areas. Not only to break up the brawls but to prevent them from happening. Because just telling the kids what they should and should not do won't work without the help of the authorities.

Michael, 14, South Jakarta: Once I was in my car on my way somewhere and suddenly there were people throwing stones at other people, and not long after that I saw kids running with machetes and knives. I was in the car so it wasn't really that dangerous, but it was pretty scary. I just felt that the whole thing was so weird, I mean what were they doing all that for?

Once I saw a stone hit a window of a passerby's car, but he was scared so he just drove away.

I think most brawls happen because of jealousy and also misunderstanding. But it shouldn't happen. We are all alike, why do we have to fight?

I think to stop all the brawling, first we need to find the source of the problem of every brawl. You know, what really makes them fight.

I know that it would be hard, but there are schools that are notorious for brawls. We could start from those schools. You know, get the rival schools together and get them to discuss their problems and help them find a solution to their problems.

I just think it would be better to get them to talk about their problems and solve them in a friendly discussion, or anything that didn't involve violence.

But if we cannot stop them, the government should provide tighter security so the brawls do not hurt innocent people.

Danang, 17, Central Jakarta: I think the biggest problem we have concerning student brawls is the problem of uniforms. Here everybody has to wear a uniform. The main idea is good, which is to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor, but all these different uniforms give away school identities.

I know that there are schools that have been rivals since who knows when, and for these schools it doesn't take a real problem to ignite a fight. All it takes is just one look at the rival school uniform and they are at it. I know someone who got beaten up just because he was in school uniform walking by the wrong place at the wrong time.

That's why I think we should be given the right to wear whatever we want and definitely no uniforms. Without uniforms, school identities wouldn't seem as strong and people would not be recognized and judged by which school they go to.

If that's not possible, I guess uniforms are OK too. But uniforms should be the same for everyone, with no difference whatsoever, including badges. You know, how even though all high school uniforms are blue and gray but each school makes the students wear badges with the name and location of the school.

And maybe, if the government has enough money, metal detectors could be installed in schools, like what we see on TV (at U.S. schools), so that kids cannot go to school carrying weapons.