Editorial: Bullying

ON THURSDAY, a parent of a student studying at a prominent school filed a complaint to the school’s Prefect of Student Affairs following an alleged bullying incident experienced by his child.

In a SunStar Davao report on Saturday, Ever Abasolo said his son received a private online message from one of his classmates of a screenshot of a voting poll, apparently without his knowledge, where his classmates surveyed whether to have him physically beaten.

“Imagine, they (alleged bullies) used online bullying through voting poll kung bugbugin ba ‘yong anak ko o hindi,” he said.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), "Bullying is characterized as aggressive behavior that is intended to cause distress or harm, involves an imbalance of power or strength between the aggressor and the victim, and commonly occurs repeatedly over time."

"Bullying takes many forms, including physical bullying; teasing or name-calling; social exclusion; peer sexual harassment; bullying about race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity; and cyber bullying," it added.

It is worrisome to note that despite campaigns and initiatives to stop bullying in school, it continues to persist.

Students who are noticeably different from the others tend be targeted by the bullies.

In turn the poor students are scarred -- physically, emotionally, psychological, or a combination of these.

“It can traumatize every child,” Abasolo said.

Based on the stories we heard in the past years, there will be times when it would already be too late before the school finds out. The student may have left the school, parents of the bullied and the bully are already butting heads, the bully and the victims are already physically hurting each other, and worse, the victim taking his or her own life.

However, we cannot fully put the school at fault, unless it intentionally decided to do nothing about the bullying incidents happening within their jurisdiction. Things can happen under the noses of the school administrators and teachers without them knowing, especially within group chats.

However, it is not easy to resolve bullying, whether in school or even at the workplace. According to a paper by Susan M. Swearer and Shelley Hymel titled "Understanding the Psychology of Bullying: Moving Toward a Social-Ecological Diathesis–Stress Model", published on the May-June 2015 issue of American Psychologist of the APA, bullying is more complex than it looks.

"Bullying stems from complex interactions between individuals and the contexts in which they function, both proximal (i.e., family, peers, school climate) and distal (i.e., societal, cultural influences). Accordingly, multiple systems must be targeted in order for bullying prevention and intervention programs to be effective," the researchers said.

Hence, for bullying incidents to be reduced in the school and outside of it, initiatives against it must be done in a holistic approach.

If we allow bullying to continue to happen in schools, we would be sending out to the world bullies who will breed another generation of bullies.


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