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When the system fails

"It's sad that these things happen in educational institutions."

 

The Anti-Bullying Act was enacted in 2013 to compel schools to adopt policies to prevent and address bullying in their respective institutions. Stories have it that the principal sponsor of the measure pursued the enactment of the law after his son fell victim to bullies in his school.

While educational institutions heeded the law and drafted their own anti-bullying policies, it seems some schools never really implemented such.

Take the case of Our Lady of Fatima Parochial Education Center (OLFPEC) in Sta. Mesa, Manila wherein at least two parents have complained that their children had been bullied by some of their schoolmates. School authorities reportedly failed to address the situation.

One of the parents, Evelyn Baloso, has a son diagnosed with Autism and Global Development Delay. Despite her son’s condition, he excelled in school and has been a consistent honor student since. But the bullying against him has also been consistent.

According to Baloso, his son had “various experiences of bullying from his classmates since he was in Grade 1, although that time, he was not yet conscious of what the bullies were committing against him.”

But as he grew older, he became aware of what his classmates were doing to him. One classmate always called him “bakla or bading.” After the incident had been reported to the school authorities, a conference was reportedly called between Baloso and the bully’s parent.

However, according to Baloso, school officials deliberately ignored its policy on bullying as published in its handbook, which was to impose disciplinary action against any student who commits bullying, including suspension from school for not more than three days, and instead decided to just monitor the activities of the student accused of bullying Baloso’s son.

While that would have been acceptable to some extent, what could be disappointing to a parent like Baloso is that the bully’s parent seemed to be unrepentant, refusing to apologize to her and her son. In fact, the bully’s parent, according to Baloso, even tried to turn the table against her, accusing her and another parent of ganging up on her daughter.

In another incident, Baloso’s son was also subjected to alleged by bullying by two of his classmates, taunting him as having a body odor and “amoy-sibuyas.” His classmates even posted in their social media chat group detrimental comments against her son, saying he had problem in his brain.

May problema yata ang brain mo, puputok na talaga yang utak mo, sabi ko sayo may problema ang utak mo,” read the comments on the student’s chat group. And for a mother whose son suffers from autism, nothing could be more painful reading those comments.

Again, the school officials, according to Baloso, failed miserably in addressing the situation. While one of the parents apologized to her and her son during the conference, the other parent reportedly refused to admit the offense committed by her son against Baloso’s kid. To make matters worse, the school, according to Baloso, failed to call a meeting with her and the kid’s parent.

As a result of the bullying against him, Baloso said his son seemed to “be losing interest in attending classes; he would cry once in a while when he recalls the bullying incidents against him, has started to develop inferiority complex and has started having nightmares on bullying.”

Unfortunately, this struggle could only be confined to that of the affected parent as the school officials and the bullies’ parent will not ever see how the bullied child copes up with his nightmarish experience.

Another parent, Joan Tigno, whose kids are also enrolled at the OLFPEC, claims her children had also fallen victims to bullies. The school also failed to address this.

With the school’s failure, Tigno said she chanced upon the alleged bully one day. According to Tigno, she approached the “bully kid” and told him in a nice manner: “Hi! Please don’t be a bully. That’s’ not nice.”

But because of her act, the parent of kid who allegedly bullied her children filed a case against her at the nearest barangay. But then, would Tigno have approached the kid if the school addressed the situation? The bullying should have been limited to the confines of the school and should not have been brought out in any other forum.

But what aggravated Tigno’s case was that the school, or her children’s teacher, might have been retaliating against her after lodging her complaint of bullying.

According to Tigno, one of her children’s teachers have been shaming her kids in the open. In one incident, Tigno said the teacher announced in a very loud voice the failing grade of one of her kids, so loud it could be heard in the other classrooms, resulting in her kid being subjected to taunting not only by his classmates but from students from other classes as well.

While one could always argue, Tigno’s son is one snowflake who easily gets offended, it seemed Tigno had every reason to suspect the teacher might be taking things personally against her, and making her children her target.

A day after her son’s embarrassment, it was her daughter’s turn to get humiliated by the same teacher.

Because the student was not able to have her report card signed by her parent, the teacher reportedly told her daughter she will get a zero even though she passed her exam. However, the teacher was lenient with her two other classmates who also forgot to have their report cards signed by their parents.

Because of those incidents, Tigno had a case of Violence Against Children blottered in the nearest police precinct.

The sad thing here is that things would have never gotten out of hand if only the school officials had done their part. Baloso, Tigno and their children relied on the system which was created to protect kids from bullying. But it was the same system that failed them. The Act should have had an Implementing Rules and Regulations which should have never delegated any responsibility to any school as we are all aware, schools exist for two reasons—to educate and to make profit. Whichever comes first for a school would determine how they handle such problem.

But for now, Balos, Tigno and the officials of OLFPEC would have to settle their issues before the Department of Education, and maybe in some legal court.

Topics: Anti-Bullying Act , Bully , Violence Against Children , Autism and Global Development Delay
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