“Any severe or repeated use of written, verbal or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination of these by one or more students directed at another student that has the effect of actually causing or placing the latter in a reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm or damage to the property, creating a hostile environment at school and Infringing on the rights of the other students at school.” — Anti-Bullying Act of 2012
From the looks of it, Jamie Garcia hasn’t seen the end of his predicament. In fact, it could only be the beginning of his long battle for justice — not only for himself, but for fellow victims of bullying. A senior high school student at a popular Catholic school, Colegio San Agustin (CSA), he couldn’t take it anymore so he bravely came out and sought the help of media.
He has long been suffering from the hands of the school bully, “JD.” Worse, the father of “JD,” identified as Allan Bantiles, reportedly “slapped Garcia and then pulled out a gun to threaten him.” A teacher managed to intervene. Bantiles was led out of the premises.
The report noted: “The CSA Makati Alumni Association (CSAMAA) filed a case report of the incident with the Department of Education and reported about the increased security on campus and the banning of Bantiles ’indefinitely.’” Moreover, “CSA officials then ordered Bantiles never to set foot on their campus again, while Garcia’s father, Mike, moved to have the gun-toting dad’s car pass cancelled,” as reported by Joseph Holandes Ubalde of Interaksyon.com.
Days after the incident, two fathers, “Ed Reyes” and “Boy“ (not their real names) revealed that their sons, also students of CSA, were bullied, too, but the school failed to take proper action.
As a parent, I find this very alarming and disturbing. What puzzles me is why a known school like CSA has seemingly turned a blind eye to what’s happening right under its noses?
A question begs to be answered: What is the nature of bullying?
I tackled the topic several times in my Parenting segment on TV5’s Good Morning Club. I interviewed parenting partner, Herald Cruz, head of the parenting cluster of the Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM) of the Ateneo de Manila University.
Below are excerpts from my interview:
Why is bullying prevalent in society?
“There are so many forms of bullying. But the bottom line is, if your child’s self-esteem is affected and if she is repeatedly harassed by another child, then she is being bullied.
“I believe that the law has given us enough description of what bullying is all about so that we can all have a better grasp of this type of violence directed to another human being. Bullying is global concern that has become prevalent in the workplace, schools and even in homes and it is prevalent because of the following reasons: Society tends to pick on someone who is different in appearance and someone who is weak and cannot defend himself. Studies will show that many bullies come from dysfunctional families where discipline is either too harsh or too lenient so it is very possible that unconsciously they vent out their frustrations on others through bullying. Children think it is funny (http://www.ncpc.org/cyberbullying). Bullying is also an issue of power and control and a child is given much or none at all it can manifest itself through bullying.”
Why do kids grow up to be bullies?
“There could be three reasons why children become bullies. It is said that children that become bullies are victims themselves. They come from families where there is plenty of negative messages, harsh punishments and they see or experience bullying from their siblings and sometimes parents, too. As a result it may create false sense of self, poor social skills and may spill over into unhealthy treatment of others.
“According to another research bullying is also a group phenomenon. (Dorothy Espelage) notes that ‘bullying is a group phenomenon’ and that ‘in many regards, bullying can be viewed as a peer-driven phenomenon that is both encouraged and maintained by characteristics of the peer group.’ Bullying is also very prevalent in schools because it is being ignored or not treated well. According to one study, a high of 97 percent of students feel that bullying is ignored.”
Why do kids grow up being the bullied one?
“These are the common profile of the bullied child: Physically different, dresses up differently, issues with sexual orientation, anxious and insecure, low self-esteem and inability to defend oneself.”
How to tell when your kid is being bullied?
“If your child doesn’t usually share sensitive topics with you, observe his/her behavior. If there is a change, then that’s a red flag. If normally, your child is always happy and smiling then all of a sudden there is a change. Look at that as the possibility of something happening in school. If there are unexplained bruises, it has to be investigated. If he is asking for more money but seems to be losing weight maybe he is being bullied. Inability to sleep well can also be a symptom of a child being bullied.”
What are the short- and long-term effects of bullying in the psyche of the child (both for the bullied and the bully)?
“For the bullied, the short-term effects are physical and emotional pain, school performance, he might bully others, and self esteem will be affected negatively. For the bully, he may begin to demonstrate anti-social behaviors, unacceptable social skills and might get into more troubles.
“It has consequences for both the bully and the victim, often leading to a variety of psychological and behavioral problems. Studies of cyber-bullying have also shown detrimental psychosocial problems for victims of Internet harassment (http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/9/prweb9875955.htm).
“Bullies, if not stopped, can progress to more serious, anti-social behavior. Recent incidents of school violence show that bullying can have tragic consequences for individuals, families, schools and entire communities (http://www.mentalhealthanswers.org/page.asp?pageid=0|6|15|81&id=0|bullying_and_what_to_do_about_it.)
Must the bullied fight back once and for all when saying no will no longer work?
“The answer is yes and no. (It is) not through physical and attempting to fight back and hurt the bully, but through telling someone in authority and his parents. The child should also be taught to say no or else I will report to teacher, and sometimes teaching the child to simply walk away.”
Can the bullying syndrome be prevented? If not, how to handle situations when the bully attempts to bully the potential victim?
“I think that bullying cannot be completely stopped but can be minimized. The problem of bullying has become so big that a book titled Bullycide has been written to address the issue of suicides as a result of bullying. “
What to do when you are the parent?
“Have a positive relationship with your child so that communication line is always open. Be very observant if there are significant changes with your child. Help develop your child’s esteem and his social skills. Observe your child in the playground and there you will see both positive behaviors and areas for improvements.”
How should schools address the bullying issue?
“To address the issue of bullying, the cycle of bullying must be understood. How it begins, how it is maintained, how it can be stopped. The anti-bullying demands from the school its program addressing bullying. Teachers must be trained to spot and handle bullying. There has to be a clear policy on the processes of handling bullying. “
Bullying must be stopped. No to bullying.