(PNA photo by Yancy Lim)

MANILA –  Bullying in schools persist despite the signing of Republic Act No 10627 or the Anti-Bullying Act nearly 10 years ago.

The 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), created by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, showed that among the 15-year-olds surveyed, 65 percent said they experienced bullying a few times monthly.

PISA results further indicated that learners who reported being threatened scored 56 percent lower in Reading compared to those who had no or less frequent experiences, according to Senator Sherwin Gatchalian.

In a news release on Friday, Gatchalian said there is a need to examine whether the procedures prescribed under Department of Education (DepEd) Order No. 55 are functioning, including immediate responses, reporting, fact-finding and documentation, intervention and disciplinary measures.

Kasabay sa pag-angat ng kalidad ng edukasyon ang pagtiyak sa kaligtasan ng ating mga paaralan at mga mag-aaral. Kung nais nating matiyak na magiging mahusay ang ating mga mag-aaral, mahalagang masugpo natin ang bullying at matiyak nating ligtas ang espasyo ng mga paaralan (Safety in the schools must go in hand with the quality of education if we want to ensure an effective education. We must put an end to bullying and make sure that schools guarantee the safety of students),” Gatchalian said.

In 2021, DepEd created the Child Protection Unit to further strengthen policies and commitments toward child protection.

The agency partnered with civil society organizations, such as the Stairway Foundation Inc., Facebook Philippines, Social Watch Philippines and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, to implement child protection programs and activities.

The law defines bullying as any unwanted physical contact between the bully and the victim, like punching, pushing, shoving, kicking, slapping, tickling, headlocks, inflicting school pranks, teasing, fighting and the use of available objects as weapons; any act that causes damage to a victim’s psyche and/or emotional well-being; slanderous statement or accusation that causes the victim undue emotional distress, like directing foul language or profanity at the target, name-calling, tormenting and commenting negatively on victim’s looks, clothes and body; and cyber-bullying or any bullying done through the use of technology or any electronic means.

Teaching and non-teaching employees who commit bullying or fail to act on bullying incidents face administrative sanctions, fines that range from PHP50,000 to PHP1 million and imprisonment from six months to six years.

Private schools may likewise be shut down if bullying is proven. (PNA)