Protecting children from bullying in schoolBy Rafael Castillo M.D.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
What was previously thought as part of school life has now surfaced as a potentially serious problem that can leave a lasting imprint on a child’s mind. Parents are now concerned that their children could be physically and psychologically traumatized by being victims of child bullying in school.
Congressman Sonny Angara, who’s serving his last term representing the province of Aurora in the Lower House, authored the Anti-Child Bullying Bill which was already approved by Congress, and hopefully, will be passed by the Senate soon.
Rep. Angara had his personal experience of what parental anguish feels when their child is being bullied. Four years ago, Manolo, their 4-year-old boy, was bullied by his two classmates. He was pushed and shoved and fell to the floor hitting his head. Fortunately, hospital tests showed no serious injury to the head.
To prevent the same incident from happening again to their child and other children in his school, Rep. Angara talked to the school authorities but their initial reaction was quite disappointing. He was told that his son Manolo should not have entered school yet since he was still too young.
The young congressman felt this thinking was not acceptable. “Once the child is in school, the school authorities should be responsible with what happens to him/her,” he was quoted in a media interview.
Triggered by that incident involving his son Manolo and the school authorities’ discouraging attitude about what happened, Rep. Angara staunchly pushed for the bill in Congress which was also strongly supported by his colleagues.
The anti-bullying bill defines bullying as acts of unwanted physical contact like “pushing, punching, shoving, kicking, slapping, tickling, headlocks, school pranks, teasing, fighting and the use of available objects as weapons.” Nonphysical contacts such as “spreading malicious rumors, keeping the victim out of a group, getting certain people to gang up on the victim, ignoring the victim on purpose, whispering to another in front of someone, silent but hurtful body motions such as pointing or any act that causes harassment or provocation, directing foul language at the victim, name calling, tormenting and commenting negatively on someone’s looks, clothes and body” are also considered bullying acts.
School authorities are responsible to exert all efforts to prevent these bullying acts from happening and punish kids who commit them. The bill mandates schools to have a strict anti-bullying policy, and to implement the provisions of the bill once it’s enacted into law. All schools should submit their anti-bullying policies to the Department of Education within six months after the bill’s passage. Stiff penalties await schools that fail to impose sanctions on kids who bully other kids, and those that do not observe anti-bullying policies.
Ensuring that no child is ever bullied in school requires likewise the vigilance of parents and other school organizations to monitor and immediately report cases to school authorities who should take proper action. Parents should also educate their children on what bullying consists of so they do not do these things on their schoolmates even just out of fun.
Most importantly, parents should not be part of the bullying, like what happened recently in an exclusive Makati school. For reasons one would find difficult to understand, the student who was a victim of bullying, and verbal and physical abuse from the parent of the kid who bullied him, was the one penalized.
Hopefully, once the Anti-Bullying Bill finally gets enacted into law, incidents like this won’t happen again. And all children will find the school conducive to learning and a safe haven against bullies.
Short URL: http://business.inquirer.net/?p=85652