AN education lawyer wants the newly approved Anti-Bullying Act revised, saying it does not provide a clear-cut definition of what bullying is.
According to Joseph Noel Estrada, the law should define clearly the crime of bullying to differentiate it from other crimes, and not simply designate it as such just because it is committed inside the school premises.
“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 also the executive director of the Coordinating Council of the Private Educational Associations or the Cocopea, said bullying should not only be limited to school violence but must also include student discrimination 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,” the education lawyer added.
Bullying is defined 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.
It also refers to acts that unduly suppress a student’s action or force him or her to do certain things against his or her will; those that encourage other students to discriminate against another student or isolate the latter from the majority of students; those that create an environment of fear and hostility against a student; and other acts analogous to these.
Estrada said bullying could lead to serious physical harm and psychological trauma.
He suggested that proponents of the anti-bullying bill should require schools to include in its discipline policies those directed to address bullying.
The lawyer proposed a super body tasked to come up with policies, receive complaints, and investigate bullying cases.
A recent study showed that more than 2.5 million Filipino children are victims of verbal and physical bullying.
NEIL A. ALCOBER