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Stop the madness

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Bullying — in all sorts and forms — is never good news.

By definition, bullying is the use of force, threat or coercion to abuse, intimidate or aggressively dominate others in a behavior that is often repeated and habitual. And while bullying can be defined in many different ways, it can be divided into four basic types of abuse — emotional, verbal, physical and cyber.

A bullying culture can develop in any context in which humans interact with each other. This includes school, family, the workplace, home and neighborhoods but nowadays, the main platform for bullying is on social media websites.

Take the case of a viral video that circulated in social media — which shows a kid bullying his schoolmates to the point of hurting them and making them bleed. His actions were not a result of provocation but rather some sort of “show of force.”

While the kid was sanctioned and dismissed from the school, the physical and emotional scars remain on those he bullied.

But not everyone who is being bullied gets to escape unscathed, as a more recent incident of bullying led to the death of a Grade 11 student in Pangasinan. The fatality was reportedly beaten up by three other students inside the school premises.

The perpetrators, all of whom were above 18 years old, were already in police custody.
If we look at it closely, these forms of bullying that usually end in horrible tragedies are becoming more prevalent that it now seems to have a fine line between indifference and madness.

Fortunately, steps are already being taken to address this issue, as the Department of Education (DepEd) launched a reorientation program on its child protection policy which kicked off in Pangasinan following the student’s death.

All schools in the province were part of the reorientation which seeks to minimize — if not put a stop entirely — on instances of bullying in schools.

“We have zero tolerance with bullying. We cannot let this happen in schools,” said DepEd spokesman and undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla.

DepEd data shows that the incidents of bullying in schools nationwide have witnessed an increasing trend from 2013 to 2017 and a total of 65,717 cases were recorded during the said school years.

It also underscored that the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013 provides that the bullies, not only the victims, should receive appropriate counseling and rehabilitation interventions, apart from the disciplinary actions that they will face.

Bullying must be addressed because it significantly affects children’s mental health, quality of life and academic achievement and frequently bullied children are nearly three times more likely to feel shunned and more than twice as likely to miss school. Their educational outcomes decline and they are more likely to leave after finishing secondary school.

We support this move of the Education department to disseminate proper information and steps that should be taken in order to reduce the instances of bullying in schools and stop this crippling madness that affect the body and the mind.

Bullied children hesitate to speak out because it can be hard, so it is up the local government agencies and schools as well to make sure that bullying can be prevented in what we always call our second home.

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