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A pervasive problem

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The report of the 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has revealed that according to its study published on December 5, one in three Filipino students had experienced being bullied at least once a week.

According to its data, 28 percent of the 7,193 Filipino students from 188 schools who took part in the assessment reported that others had “made fun” of them while 19 percent said they were threatened by other students. Some reported being the subject of “nasty rumors” while others got hit or pushed by other students. There were also those who complained that their things were taken away or destroyed while some said they were “left out of things on purpose.”

The Department of Education, which must be smarting from the results of the PISA evaluation that had also ranked Filipino students as among the bottom dwellers in reading, mathematics, and science, has assured the public that it was implementing programs by its Learners Rights Protection Office (LRPO) to address bullying in schools.

The LRPO operates the “telesafe” hotline and child protection desks, and the Bureau of Learners Support Services has various mental health initiatives and counseling projects. Other DepEd programs include the creation of a mental health unit in the department that is expected to become operational next year and the ongoing hiring of “mental health coordinators” for every region.

Education Undersecretary Gina Gonong said in a forum on PISA results organized by DepEd last week that bullying “remained a pervasive problem, more so among boys and those in public schools.” It also affected their academic performance as the study said that those who were bullied at least a few times a month scored 11 to 44 points lower in mathematics.

Bullying has long been a problem in many schools, not just in the Philippines, but all over the world. However, its pervasiveness shouldn’t give education officials and school administrators an excuse to simply ignore the problem. Aside from ensuring that whatever programs and initiatives that are supposed to thwart bullying are deployed with more determination and intensity, it is also the responsibility of Filipino adults to set a good example for the youth, especially when it comes to bullying.

Hopefully the tolerance and even outright glorification of bullies, especially those holding positions of notable power, was just a passing ugly fad that has become a thing of the past and our government officials, school administrators, and the adults in the room can be one in setting an example for the country’s youth of how bullying should never be tolerated in any setting.*

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