Immediate counselling of students involved and referral to the police are also advocated. At the same time, the ministry is encouraging pupils to become involved in sports clubs and organisations, such as the Scouts and Guides, that offer benign alternative leisure activities.
The concern has been triggered by recent cases of violence against pupils and teachers that have hit the headlines. In one, a 15-year-old boy fell into a coma after being beaten by a gang on his way home from school. In two cases involving protection money, a 13-year-old was beaten up and another student was murdered for refusing to pay.
School gangsters often have roots in the adult triad gangs. School-leavers who join the triad groups then recruit gang members from their former school friends. Weekly payment of about 50 pence secures the pupil protection.
Secret society activities commonly include extortion, gang fights, bullying and carrying weapons.