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10 June 2013

Senate acts to curb bullying in schools

Stop Bullying Now Sign
The Senate today approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to lessen, if not totally curb, bullying among students in elementary and high schools.

Sen. Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Committee on Education, Arts and Culture and sponsor of the bill, said the proposed measure is a combination of House Bill 5496 and its Senate versions authored by himself and Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Angara said there is no reason for school authorities and societies to tolerate bullying because it traumatizes and in extreme cases, drive kids to suicide.

He cited findings of a research which showed that at least one-third of the students in the Philippines or about 2.5 million kids were verbally or physically bullied.

He said the Department of Education (DepEd), between May and August 2012 or within a three-month period, received a total of 112 cases of child abuse and related complaints in the central office.

"The after effect of bullying is quite serious, both physically and psychologically, for it leaves an almost permanent mark on kids that remain up to their adulthood," Angara said.

While the DepEd has a set of child protection policy, Department Order 40, it is a temporary interim measure to stop bullying in schools, Angara revealed.

"This type of measure should be institutionalized through law so that it will become part of the school culture that bullying will no longer be tolerated in any of the campuses in the country," he said.

Once the proposed legislation is enacted into law, Angara said, all elementary and secondary schools will have policies addressing the existence of bullying in their respective institutions.

He said that appropriate administrative sanctions, to be prescribed by the DepEd, will be imposed on school administrators who fail to comply with the mandate.

School policies would prohibit acts of bullying from being committed not only within school grounds or during school sponsored activities but also in location activity functions or school programs, Angara said.

Bullies, he added, will be made aware that their actions will be easily detected. Acts of bullying should be discouraged.

"The heart of this measure is the education of parents on bullying and to familiarize them with the anti-bullying policies of the school. With that information, parents would have better choices which schools to send their children," Angara said.

A press release from the Senate of the Philippines, written by Pilar S. Macrohon.


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