Opinions

A lesson to bullies

IT was only proper for Ateneo de Manila University to take action and dismiss its junior high school student who was caught on camera while punching and kicking another student in an incident that spread on social media.

Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones said the episode was not only a problem of Ateneo but of society itself as she urged schools, communities, parents and the media to help end bullying. It could not be solved by the mere expulsion of a student.

The public rage was really ignited in this particular case and Briones hoped that this would “lead to more care, more watchfulness, more caring for all learners whether they have problems or not”.

She recommended to Ateneo officials and other private institutions to align their protocols for bullying cases with the anti-bullying law and the DepEd’s own protocols. She urged teachers to inform parents and school officials if they encounter bullying incidents and the media to publish more stories concerning bullying.

Caloocan Bishop Pablo David, vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), stated that to stand idly by while bullying occurs was just as wrong as the act itself. He was apparently referring to the school mates of the two junior high school students who were seen on video as they witnessed the violence but chose to leave the room to avoid involvement.

David said bullying was never acceptable as it normally entailed hurting, harassing and oppressing the weak and helpless. He advised the public not to succumb to fear in front of a bully and stand by what is right, true, and necessary.

The bishop is absolutely right since fear has always been the adversary in cases of bullying. It forces people to remain silent and do nothing to avoid facing the risk of incurring the bully’s wrath.

While there is no question that assistance should be provided to the victim, we should also pay close attention to the reasons for the bully’s behavior. His display of cruelty and lack of compassion for a fellow human being may not just be the problem but a symptom of yet another, deeper problem. He may have personal woes that he tries to avoid by showing his dominion over others whom he considers weak and easy to intimidate. For all we know, he himself may have been a victim of bullying or maltreatment, physically or verbally, by a family member. The bully is also a person who, perhaps, may be in need of professional help.

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Robert Roque Jr.
Robert B. Roque Jr. is a veteran journalist who started out as a correspondent for Manila Bulletin's tabloid TEMPO in 1983. In 1989, At age 27, he rose to become the youngest associate editor of a newspaper of national circulation. In mid-2000, he took the helm of the paper as its editor until his voluntary retirement in 2012. He currently writes a syndicated column for TEMPO, Remate, and Hataw newspapers, and for this site, Beyond Deadlines. A former journalism lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Santo Tomas from 1992 to 2002, Roque is also an active member of the Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organization in the world, having served as head of the Philippine Lions (council chairperson) in Lion Year 2011-2012.

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