Schools mandated to adopt policies vs bullying

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I suspect that my son is being bullied in his school. He is only ten years old. Is there any way that I can protect him? Is there any law that prevents bullying in school and what should the school do about it? Thank you so much and more power!
Rhea
Dear Rhea,
The State takes bullying seriously and desires to protect children from bullying. Republic Act 10627 or The Anti-Bullying Act of 2013 was passed on September 12, 2013 and became effective fifteen (15) days after its approval. It mandated all ele-mentary and secondary schools to adopt policies to prevent and address bullying in their institutions.

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Bullying as defined in Sec. 2 of RA 10627 is “any severe or repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another student that has the effect of actually causing or placing the latter in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm or damage to his property; creating a hostile environment at school for the other students; infringing on the rights of the other students at school; or materially and substantially disrupting the education process or the orderly operation of a school[.]” It may be any unwanted physical contact between the bully and victim, any act that causes damage to a victim’s psyche and/or emotional well-being, any slanderous statement or accusation that causes the victim undue emotional distress, and cyber-bullying or any bullying done through the use of technology or any electronic means.

RA 10627 requires schools to adopt policies to address the existence of bullying in their institutions. They must provide policies to prohibit acts of bullying, identify the range of disciplinary administrative actions that may be taken against a perpetrator for bull-ying or retaliation, establish clear procedures and strategies regarding bullying and protecting the bullied student, enable students to anony-mously report bullying or retaliation, disciplinary mea-sures for false reporting, educate students on bullying and the school policies on bullying and maintain a public record of relevant information on acts of bullying in schools.

If you strongly believe and have confirmed that your son is being bullied as defined under the law, you must report the matter to the school. Sec. 4 of RA 10627 holds the school principal or its equivalent responsible for the implementation and over-sight of policies intended to address bullying in their school. Parents like you, who have either witnessed or have information on bullying, must report the incident to the principal, school officer or person designated to handle the issues of bullying. Once the incident has been reported, the person designated to handle issues of bullying shall investigate the matter. Once it is determined that your son was indeed bullied, the investigator shall notify the law enforcement agency if the gravity of the bullying is tantamount to a violation of our criminal laws. The officer must also take appropriate disciplinary admi-nistrative action. He will also notify the parents or guardians of the perpetrator and of the victim on the action taken on the complaint.

We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other 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 dearpao@manilatimes.net

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