MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Education (DepEd) welcomed yesterday the signing of the Anti-Bullying Law which seeks to curb incidents of bullying in basic educational institutions throughout the country.
In a statement, DepEd said the new law complements the agencyâ€™s existing â€œChild Protection Policy.â€
â€œThis is a landmark piece of legislation that enhances the DepEdâ€™s existing Child Protection Policy and allows us to further develop our schools into learner-centered institutions,â€ the agency said.
President Aquino signed last Republic Act 10627 or the â€œAnti-Bullying Act of 2013â€ last Sept. 6, requiring all elementary and secondary schools to adopt policies to prevent and address bullying in their institutions.
The law defines bullying as 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 students.
The act of bullying also involves infringing on the rights of other students at school or materially and substantially disrupting the education process or the orderly preparation of a school.
A 2008 study of Britain-based Plan International showed that one in two school children in the Philippines are bullied or suffer from other forms of abuse inflicted by peers or teachers.
Most incidents go unreported due to fear of retribution, it added.
Plan International said school-related violence against children and the youth has always been detrimental to the realization of the childrenâ€™s full potential.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara welcomed the enactment of the Anti-Bullying Act as a major step in protecting children from one of the earliest forms of violence.
Angara, who was one of the principal authors of the law when he was still in the House of Representatives, said that the youth must be provided with the opportunity for maximum learning â€œin a peaceful and violence-free setting.â€
According to Angara, the issue of bullying in schools is very personal to him because his son was also a victim of bullying.
Under the Anti-Bullying Act or Republic Act 10627, all elementary and secondary schools are required to adopt policies to prevent and address bullying in their institutions within six months after the law becomes effective.
â€œThe school is our childrenâ€™s second home. I call on school authorities to be proactive and responsive to the law in order to ensure the safety of the students. That is their primary responsibility and promise to parents,â€ said Angara.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, the principal author of the law in the Senate, said that â€œbullying causes physical, psychological and emotional harm to students and interferes with studentsâ€™ ability to learn and participate in school activities.â€
Santiago noted that a studentâ€™s development is hampered when there are incidents of violence, harassment and fear among students, â€œmost exemplified in cases of bullying.â€