My sister’s teacher appears to be singling her out and often puts her in humiliating circumstances. May I know what case or cases can we file against her teacher? Is my sister’s situation covered by the Anti-Bullying Law considering that she is still a minor?
The law defines “bullying” as any severe or repeated use of a written, verbal or electronic expression, and/or a physical act or gesture by a student directed at another student causing or placing the victim in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm or damage to his property, creating a hostile environment at school for him, infringing on his rights or materially and substantially disrupting the education process or the orderly operation of a school (Sec. 2, Republic Act or RA 10627). From this definition, it is clear that bullying is limited to acts, expressions or gestures by one student directed to another student. It refers to incidents between and among students, and does not involve teachers and other school personnel. Hence, your sister’s predicament is not covered by the Anti-Bullying Law.
Nevertheless, there are other laws and regulations that may apply to your sister’s case depending on actual facts and circumstances. As an administrative remedy, the Department of Education (DepEd) Child Protection Policy or the Child Protection Committee (CPC) may be considered. The CPC embodies the Zero Tolerance Policy of the DepEd toward any act of child abuse, exploitation, violence, discrimination, bullying and other forms of abuse in school. It specifically includes acts committed by the school head, other school officials, academic and other personnel against minor students and penalizes the same as administrative violation for grave or simple misconduct depending on the gravity of the acts and their consequences (Sec. 15, DepEd Order No. 40, s.2012).
Under the Child Protection Policy, psychological abuse, emotional maltreatment and any act that debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child is considered child abuse. On the other hand, discrimination under the policy includes acts of exclusion, distinction, restriction or preference based on any ground such as age, gender, other status or condition, among others, which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise of all rights by all persons on an equal footing. Whereas, psychological violence against children includes acts or omissions causing or likely to cause mental or emotional suffering to the child such as intimidation, public ridicule or humiliation and repeated verbal abuse. (Sec. 3, Ibid.)
In addition to the above-mentioned administrative measure, a criminal case for child abuse may also be considered as RA 7610 or the Anti-Child Abuse Law also penalizes psychological abuse, emotional maltreatment, acts that debase, degrade or demean the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being, as well as any other acts of child abuse, cruelty or exploitation and responsibility for other conditions prejudicial to the child’s development (Sec. 3(b) in relation to Sec. 10(a), RA 7610). Other cases, civil and criminal, may also be filed against your sister’s teacher depending on the surrounding facts and circumstances.
We hope you find this opinion useful. Please bear in mind that this opinion is based on the facts you narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary if 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 firstname.lastname@example.org