By Wilnard Bacelonia

CYBERBULLYING. The Department of Education has recorded a total of 178 cases of bullying since November 2022, with physical incidents topping the list. Data gathered by the Learners TeleSafe Contact Center Helpline show that from Nov. 24, 2022 to Jan. 11, 2024, there were 40 incidents of bullying in general; 27 cyberbullying; 83 physical bullying; and 28 verbal. (Anadolu photo)

MANILA – The Department of Education (DepEd) has recorded a total of 178 cases of bullying among learners since November 2022, with physical incidents topping the list.

Data gathered by the Learners TeleSafe Contact Center Helpline show that from Nov. 24, 2022 to Jan. 11, 2024, there were 40 incidents of bullying in general; 27 cyberbullying; 83 physical bullying; and 28 verbal.

“Bullying in general” refers to cases where the complainant merely mentioned being bullied without specifying the acts that constitute bullying.

After receiving such report, the helpline will wait for the school to submit another report to determine the acts before identifying the specific type of bullying.

During a sectoral meeting on Thursday at Malacañang, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. directed the DepEd to focus on addressing bullying.

“Na-discuss nga po kanina na kung dati ang bullying stays in school, sa ngayon, because of social media, even when you leave school, pwede pa ring magkaroon ng mga (We discussed earlier that unlike before when bullying stays in school, now, because of social media, even when you leave school, there are still possibilities of) incidence of bullying through the different social media platforms,” DepEd spokesperson Undersecretary Michael Poa told Palace reporters after the meeting.

“So these are the things that we have already started addressing in the Department of Education, but we will continue to strengthen our programs in terms of bullying, of course, in coordination also with other agencies such as the DOH pagdating sa (when it comes to) referral system,” he added.

Under DepEd Order No. 55 s. 2013 or the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act (RA) No. 10627 or the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013, bullying refers to “any severe, or repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another student that has the effect of actually causing or placing the latter in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm or damage to his property, creating a hostile environment at school for the other student; infringing on the rights of another student at school, or materially and substantially disrupting the education process or the orderly operation of a school.”

Experts said students who experience bullying are seen to be at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties and lower academic achievement.

Under RA 10627, any school employee who commits bullying shall be punished by a fine of not less than PHP50,000 but not more than PHP100,000, at least six months but not more than one year of imprisonment, or both fine and imprisonment. (PNA)