Bullying and hazing in elite schools
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - December 27, 2018 - 12:00am

Violence among students, to a certain extent, is but a reflection of the endemic violence in the larger society. It is also a symptom of failures not just by school administrators, faculty and other non-teaching personnel. It is clear evidence that the family has failed, the church has failed, and the government has failed in their functions to instill in the minds of the young basic respect for the dignity and rights of other students. There is a combined failure to inculcate among the young love for harmony, peace and good relations. It is unimaginable how a student of a very prestigious school like the Ateneo (where Dr. Jose P Rizal used to study) would use his taekwondo expertise to inflict irreparable injury on the psyche of a fellow student, right inside the campus.


Two of my five children used to study in Ateneo. My eldest boy finished high school there, and my youngest daughter graduated from college there. We never had problem on bullying at that time, and we, the parents were actively involved in the character formation of our kids. My wife and I were very much involved in the parents' teacher association. Parents should not totally relegate their responsibility to teachers who, most often, are focused on academic development. There is a persistent need for coordination between parents and faculty, administrators and the students themselves. Bullying is an indubitable proof of failure on the part of all stakeholders.

My eldest son transferred to UST (where Rizal finished medicine). Just to watch over him, I made sure that I would join the faculty in the faculty of law, because this school had been known for cases on hazing, which to my mind, is the worst kind of bullying. The fifteenth congress passed Republic Act 10627, the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013, which defines bullying as any severe or repeated use by one or more students any verbal, electronic or physical act or gesture directed at another student that has the effect of actually causing physical or emotional harm or fear, or damage to his property, creating a hostile environment in school. In effect, any act of bullying disrupts the education process in school.

There many other related laws, like PD 603, the Child and Youth Welfare Act of 1975, RA 9344, the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, and RA 8049, which was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2018, the latest Anti-Hazing Act as Congress response to the death of UST law student Atio Castillo. These laws, however, by themselves alone, are not enough to prevent bullying and hazing. There is a need for a continuing vigilance among parents, administrators, faculty, non-teaching personnel and students themselves. It takes the whole academic community and both society and government, family and church to combat this growing social malady.

Cardinal Chito Tagle recently made a swipe against the government about bullying by government officials' so-called abuse of power. Maybe, the good cardinal should focus his attention in bullying inside elite Catholic schools. For sure, his words would have a very strong persuasive influence on Catholic school administrators.


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