DepEd reminds schools to enforce anti-bullying policies

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Department of Education. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 21) — A viral video circulating online showing alleged bullying in the Ateneo de Manila University prompted the Department of Education (DepEd) to remind schools about enforcing anti-bullying policies.

"The Department also encourages learners who experience or witness bullying, abuse, or retaliation to speak up and report verified incidents to their peers, parents, teachers, and the appropriate authorities for proper intervention," DepEd said in a statement Friday.

DepEd cited Department Order No. 40 which institutionalized zero tolerance for violence against children and established the CPC in all public and private schools.

It added information relating to the identity and personal circumstances of the bullies, the victims, or the witnesses shall be treated with utmost confidentiality by the Child Protection Committee (CP)C and the school personnel.

The department also took note of the Implementing Rules and regulations of Republic Act 10627, or the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013, which requires schools to submit copies of these policies to the district offices.

Should schools fail to do so, private schools may face penalties under the law.

The viral clip in question showed a student allegedly from the Ateneo High School being asked to choose between kissing the shoes of his schoolmate or getting beaten up. When the student refused to comply, the other student then proceeded to kick and beat him up.

Malacañang called on school officials to probe the incident.

"I was bothered by what I saw. I think they should investigate first why there was such a one-sided fight," Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo said in a briefing Friday afternoon.

Lawmakers react

Senator Sonny Angara, in a tweet, reminded schools to enforce the Anti-Bullying Law in light of the video.

"Kids and parents have a right to demand that schools provide a safe and nurturing learning environment," he said.

He added that under the Family Code, schools are legally responsible for kids under their custody.

Meanwhile, Senator Bam Aquino said government must also look into possible incidences of bullying in work spaces.

"Maliban dito, kailangan ding tingnan ang nangyayaring bullying pati sa mga opisina kung saan ang madalas mabiktima ay ang mga kapos at ang mga mahihirap nating kababayan," the senator said in a statement.

Senator Nancy Binay, however, lamented that the video continues to circulate with netizens shaming the bully.

"We must condemn all forms of bullying. But what's bothersome, though, is the vicious cycle of bullying. Bullying does not end by bullying the bully. It only worsens the culture of hate," she said. "Let's strive to heal even the tormentors, and work for a bully-free society."

Makati Representative Monsour Del Rosario, one of the pioneers of Philippine taekwondo, meanwhile encouraged parents to be more proactive in disciplining their children.

"Let's all raise our children to be better," Del Rosario said in a statement.

Fanning the flames?

Speaking to CNN Philippines Friday, psychiatrist Gerardo Los Baños noted one possible harm the viral video can make is that it can induce more violence-perhaps in other aspects.

"I think my major concern is not so much the privacy as the fact that it can fan the flames of even more violence-- emotional and otherwise. So instead na ma-prevent (of being prevented), they can actually escalate into some other form," Los Baños told CNN Philippines News Night.

He added that from a spectators' point-of-view, one must first address why the bullying took place.

"Maybe it should be seen within context. When I say this, it should be like, look at the bully and then the bullied. I think the concern is why the bullying happened. Usually gustong gumanti nga, diba? (they want to seek revenge, right?) We want to punish the bully but then we have to understand why the bullying happened. A lot of times, there will be issues that need to be addressed," the doctor said.

"You cannot stop the bully just by preventing him from doing it because it can actually happen again-- even later in life."

Los Baños also encouraged an investigation on the sensitive case.

"There are laws (on anti-bullying). But we need to investigate first before doing anything. They might even bring additional problems to the matter," he added.

The Ateneo Junior High School on Thursday said the management is already "dealing with the matter" seriously and is already conducting an investigation.