DepEd: Zero tolerance on bullying, abuse

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012


ON HIS first year in a new school, 11-year-old Ryan’s mom Helen thought her son’s poor school performance was only brought by his adjustment to a new school.

But after months of observing him, she would notice her son’s attitude toward going to school turned from being positive to negative.

Three months since he started school, Helen’s son would now come up with ailments from headaches, stomachaches and exhibit severe body malaise to have an excuse not to go to school despite his medical records showing these ailments aren’t true.

Upon arriving from school, her son would have torn and dirtied and missing pieces of clothing. Sometimes his tears just welled upon seeing his mother and suddenly turn quiet.

As a doting mother, Helen went to her son’s school to investigate and asked his teacher to observe his son in school.

Upon the teacher’s observation, at around lunch time, Ryan and another classmate would head out together to the playground. The latter would frisk of him of his valued belongings from his new toy to his lunch money.

Such cases are common in public and private schools in the country today, Department of Education Undersecretary Alfredo Muyot said.

In a visit to Baguio City National High School last Friday, Muyot told teachers, parents, students and school administrators, participants of the recent Brigada Eskwela, of the dangers of child bullying.

Muyot, a lawyer, aside from conducting supervision in last week’s Brigada Eskwela activities, said DepEd will start implementing a zero tolerance policy for cases of child bullying.

As the Undersecretary for Legal Affairs, he would experience such cases arriving in his office and in offices of different school principals and supervisors nationwide.

In a study conducted by DepEd, Muyot claimed the 2009 Survey of Students in Public Schools is already an eye-opener detailing the increasing concerns of high school students to bullying.

Some 74 percent of secondary school students responded pointed to bullying as their main concern compared to child abuse.

Another growing concern he pointed out are the rising cases of psychological bullying in the advent of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter where students are exposed to cyber bullying.

Although no reported cases of teen suicides were reported in the country brought about by cyber bullying, he said these cases have already been experienced by students and families in the United States.

Last May 14, according to Muyot, DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro issued Department Order No. 40 issuing policy and guidelines in protecting children in schools from abuse, violence, exploitation, discrimination, bullying and other forms of abuse.

Also called as DepEd’s Child Protection Policy, he stressed the policy is not punitive but more of preventive in addressing violence experienced by children.

Through the policy, each school, private or public, are required to convene their Child Protection Committees and come up with activities to end violence against children.

Cases of violence against children include corporal punishment often committed by teachers or school employees such as blows, striking a child’s face, hair pulling, pinching and other forms of punishment.

The policy also defines child abuse or maltreatment, exploitation which is either sexual or economic will be dealt with by the committee composed of parents, school administrator, student and parent’s representatives and the guidance counselor.

The order also addresses discrimination according to age, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, language, disability among others.

Lastly, the DepEd official disclosed bullying or peer abuse which he said is further exacerbated by the exposure of the youth to the Internet with cyber bullying through social networking sites, electronic mail, mobile phone text messages and other electronic means.

These include the child experiencing threats, stalking, taking of property, public humiliation, physical violence, property defacement, demanding sexual or monetary favors and restraint of liberty or freedom. (JM Agreda)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 30, 2012.

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