Fri. Jan 15th, 2021

Bullying in school and in sanctioned activities off-campus …

Bullying in school and in sanctioned activities off-campus …

Dear PAO,
We are not from a well-off family, but our parents strive hard to send us to private schools. My brother did not wear branded shoes or bags to school and because of this, he was bullied by his classmates and peers in grade school. In one of their field trips (pre-pandemic), he was also ridiculed for his dark skin and short height and was called names. All these made him insecure about his looks, and he refused to attend classes. We wanted to settle things amicably, but the bullies’ parents said the incidents happened off-campus, and, at any rate, we should report them first to the barangay for settlement. Are these statements correct?
Louie

Dear Louie,
No, the statements of the parents of the bullies are not correct. Republic Act 10627 or the “Anti-Bullying Act of 2013” enumerates the acts of bullying, which include the name-calling and appearance-shaming that your brother experienced:

“Section 2. Acts of Bullying. – For purposes of this Act, ‘bullying’ shall refer to any severe or repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another student that has the effect of actually causing or placing the latter in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm or damage to his property; creating a hostile environment at school for the other student; infringing on the rights of the other student at school; or materially and substantially disrupting the education process or the orderly operation of a school; such as, but not limited to, the following:

“xxx;

“c. Any slanderous statement or accusation that causes the victim undue emotional distress like directing foul language or profanity at the target, name-calling, tormenting and commenting negatively on victim’s looks, clothes and body; and

“xxx”

The field trip being off-campus is no excuse as the law’s scope reaches school-sanctioned activities, whether in or out of school, thus:

“Section 3. Adoption of Anti-Bullying Policies. – All elementary and secondary schools are hereby directed to adopt policies to address the existence of bullying in their respective institutions. Such policies shall be regularly updated and, at a minimum, shall include provisions which:

“a. Prohibit the following acts:

“1. Bullying on school grounds; property immediately adjacent to school grounds; at school-sponsored or school-related activities, functions or programs whether on or off school grounds; at school bus stops; on school buses or other vehicles owned, leased or used by a school; or through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased or used by a school;

“xxx”

With regard to referring the matter first to the barangay, the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations does not provide for said prerequisite, viz:

“Section 10. Procedures in Handling Bullying Incidents in Schools

“A. Jurisdiction.

“Complaints of bullying and other acts under this IRR shall be within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Department or the private school and shall not be brought for amicable settlement before the Barangay, subject to existing laws, rules and regulations. Complaints for acts covered by other laws shall be referred to the appropriate authorities.

“xxx”

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

Published at Sat, 09 Jan 2021 08:01:00 +0000

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