THE Department of Education (DepEd) in Northern Mindanao Region has assured it will remain vigilant to prevent bullying in school.

"We already had an orientation for the teachers on how to handle these cases, especially on how they will address victims of bullying," Joy L. Sabanpan of DepEd’s Education Program Supervisor/Curriculum Management Division (EPS/CLMD), told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Monday.

Sabanpan said bullying is more prevalent in private schools, and school administrators should not ignore even instances of teasing since this is a form of bullying.

“Bugo ka!”, “Yawa ka!”, “Pangit ka!” are three of the commonly used phrases in bullying, she said.

Sabanpan urged students and parents to immediately report to school administrators any case of bullying.

She said it is the prerogative of the schools to impose punishments, but “suspension is the least that the school can do to the bullies.”

Dr. Gina Labitad, school principal of City High School, said City High has fewer cases of bullying compared to the years before the law was passed.  

“So far, based on our experience, there were only a few cases. Unlike in the previous years nga magkagubot gyud, karun dili na especially that of our Maranao and non-Maranao students because of the programs here on Values, Arabic and Islamic education. Once a week, Maranaos have separate classes with Maranao teachers handling them. With these programs, bullying has been limited,” she said.  

Norhanna Barabadan, who is Maranao, said she has a good relationship with her classmates. “Wala man. Ok ra ang treatment sa among classmate ug close mi,” Barabadan said.

Melodina Palima, the head of the committee for anti-bullying at MOGCHS, said cases of bullying at the school have also gone down “and by the time the involved students were being referred to the Guidance counselor, the problems were resolved by the students themselves.”

The Anti-Bullying Act of 2013 (Republic Act 10627) was signed into law in 2013 by President Benigno Aquino III.

The law empowers DepEd to impose administrative sanctions on school administrators who fail to stop bullying. Erring private schools will have their permits to operate suspended.

Bullying is defined as “any severe or repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another student that has the effect of actually causing or placing the latter in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm or damage to his property.”

It also includes acts that create a hostile environment at school for the bully’s victim and which infringe on the rights of the victim.