• Cocopea director wants anti-bullying bill revised

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    AN education lawyer said the newly approved Anti-Bullying bill should be revised because it does not clearly define what constitutes bullying.

    Joseph Noel Estrada said there should be a clear definition of bullying to differentiate it from other crimes.

    “When a law provides a clear definition of what bullying is, schools can truly identify whether a simple pinching or tickling is simply what it is, or a behavioral pattern known as bullying,” Estrada told The Manila Times.

    Estrada, who is the executive director of the Coordinating Council of the Private Educational Associations (Cocopea), said the law should not be focused on the acts of violence committed by a student on another student.

    The education lawyer said bullying should not be limited to school violence but also include discrimination against students and LGBTs [lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders].

    “With the increase of incidents of discrimination against LGBTs in a school environment, I suggest that the matter be included in the bill within the context of bullying and expand its coverage and definition,” Estrada said.

    The bill defines bullying as an act or series of acts directed to a fellow student to unduly assert a degree of superiority and dominance; acts that tend to publicly humiliate, ridicule and embarrass a student.

    Trauma
    Estrada said bullying could lead to serious physical harm and psychological trauma.

    The trauma suffered by victims leaves deep cuts psychologically than that caused by physical injuries, he added.

    Whether psychological or physical, the trauma should not be an element or a requirement before a certain act be classified as bullying, Estrada said.

    “Otherwise, it puts an unnecessary burden on the complainant or victim to engage a psychologist to prove the psychological trauma that he or she suffered, or an expert opinion that the act would tend to cause emotional or psychological harm,” he explained.

    Accountability
    Estrada suggested that an anti-bullying bill should require schools to come up with policies that will address bullying.

    “It would however be more effective if all members of the academic community-the school, students, and parents are given a stake in addressing bullying in schools. The bill should provide for responsibilities and liabilities not only of the school, but of parents or sanctions for the bullies themselves,” he said.

    He also proposed the creation of a super body that will craft policies, receive complaints, and investigate bullying cases.

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