In the Senate hearing last week on the implementation of the anti-bullying law, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said at least seven out of 10 students in Philippine public schools have suffered bullying, ranking the country first among 70 that have the problem.
Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on basic education, described as worrisome the prevalence of bullying, as it was supposed to have been addressed by Republic Act No. 10627 or the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013. He also lamented that the country’s top ranking in terms of bullying was in direct contrast to its second-to-last ranking in terms of reading, mathematics and science.
He noted that the World Health Organization found that 40 percent of children aged 13 to 17 years old have suffered bullying, while the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) gathered 63 percent of Grade 5 students or 10-year-old learners experienced bullying. The records of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) also showed that 40-60 percent of 13 to 17 year olds experienced bullying.
The senator also presented statistics that show a direct relationship between being bullied and the performance of students, where it can be seen that scores in math and science of those who experienced bullying are lower than those who did not.
Based on the Department of Education records, cases of bullying have actually increased since the law took effect in 2013. However, it attributed the increase to more people reporting it. Even so, the massive underreporting of bullying was also noted and assumed to be taking place in our schools.
A country that has been ranked number one among 70, when it comes to the bullying of school children, needs to do something about it. A law has already been passed but with bullying still being that prevalent, it is either ineffective or implementation has been terribly spotty. And with academic performance suffering enough to put Filipino school children at the bottom of the barrel, the problem of bullying is one that has to be addressed, along with other perennial problems that have been hounding our education system, by the DepEd, with the assistance of all other government agencies that can help make our schools safer institutions of learning.*