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front_bullying13DepEd to schools: Stop bullying

BY REYSHIMAR ARGUELLES

ILOILO City – Bullying can significantly affect a bullied child’s psychological well-being, thus it must not be tolerated, the Department of Education (DepEd) in Region 6 said.

Bullying can take many forms – verbal insults, physical violence, emotional and even sexual abuse.

Assistant Regional Director John Arnold Siena said DepEd seeks the cooperation of both school authorities and parents to stop bullying, which could happen within or outside school premises.

Immediate action should be taken, he stressed.

Parents should notify school authorities if their children were subjected to bullying by schoolmates, but teachers must be vigilant themselves, he said.

Last year, Education Secretary Armin Luistro issued Department Order No. 40 or DepEd’s Child Protection Policy.

It emphasized the department’s “zero tolerance policy for any act of child abuse, exploitation, violence, discrimination, bullying and other forms of abuse…”

It defines bullying or peer abuse as a “wilful aggressive behavior that is directed towards a particular victim who may be out-numbered, younger, weak, with disability, less confident, or otherwise vulnerable.”

According to Siena, DepEd’s Child Protection Policy outlines the steps that schools should take in cases of bullying. These are:

* All bullying incidents shall be reported to the School Head.

* The School Head shall in turn inform the parents of the pupils concerned and a meeting shall be held for that purpose.

* The student shall be referred to the school’s Child Protection Committee for counselling and other interventions.

* The school may impose non-punitive measures in accordance with the principles of “positive and non-violent discipline.”

* Punitive measures will be a last resort.

Siena said the children concerned may also be referred to proper agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development that has instrumentalities handling cases involving juveniles.

In private education institutions, however, the punishment for school bullies could be as severe – suspension from classes or even termination from the school.

In issuing Department Order No. 40, Luistro said the best interest of the child shall be the paramount consideration in all decisions and actions involving children.

Teachers are their substitute parents and are expected to discharge their functions and duties with this in mind, he stressed.

Under DepEd’s Child Protection Policy, the following are the duties and responsibilities of schools:

* Ensure the institution of effective child protection policies and procedures and monitor compliance thereof;

* Ensure that the school adopts a child protection policy, organize and convene Child Protection Committee for the school;

* Conduct the capacity building activities for the members of the CPC and guidance counselors/teachers;

* Ensure that the participatory and other rights of children are respected and upheld in all matters and procedures affecting their welfare; and

* Coordinate with appropriate offices and other agency or instrumentality for appropriate assistance and intervention, as may be required in the performance of its functions./PN