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Bullying: Why it shouldn’t happen

The case of the bully at the Ateneo Junior High School made headlines everywhere and even invited a lot of unwanted attention from all kinds of people. Netizens both here and abroad even went as far as to challenge the boy and his family to a fist fight. In our anger and disgust, we turned out to be no different from Joaquin Montes Jr, the 14 year old who was tagged as the Ateneo bully.

After Christmas day, news spread that Montes had been expelled from the Ateneo Junior High School. Some have taken to social media to express relief that some measure of justice had been done for the bully’s victims. However, the Philippine Taekwondo Association expressed their desire to continue his membership provided that Montes undergo some measure of rehabilitation. No clue as to what that would be. I personally disagree with the PTA as this only shows me that they condone the act of bullying and that their expression of disagreement with the act is but a formality, one that will allow them to avoid scrunity by other netizens.

There is no clear answer as to who took and uploaded the Montes videos, but it is clear that these videos paved the way for our legislators to consider amending RA 10627 or the Anti-Bullying Act. Updates are definitely timely as bullying can happen in various ways.

In an article by the Philippine News Agency, bullying has been described to happen in various ways:

Physical – physical violence as the Montes videos showing him beating up other kids who have had no Taekwondo training. The threat of violence can be enough to make someone bend to the will of the bully. Aside from the classmates of Joaquin Montes Jr., this also happens to the children with special needs. Sometimes children just resort to beating up their classmates who are PWDs simply because they have no one to turn to and many schools are blind to the bullying of PWD students.

Relational aggression – this is common in all-girl schools and may be a more sophisticated form of bullying. The bully would befriend the target and spread rumors about the victim until she/he is socially isolated. This leads to having other members of a clique picking on the bullied as well. This still happens in schools and even for adults who are bullied in the workplace. Such form of bullying can cost careers and hurt incomes.

Sexual bullying – happens to students who are victimized by their classmates, or maybe more popular, to subordinates in the work place. Female PWDs are highly susceptible to this kind of bullying. Inappropriate touching, hand gestures, or highly suggestive sexual innuendos are various forms of sexual bullying. The deaf and those with mental disabilities are highly prone to this kind of bullying, especially in schools where the bullying is perpetuated by a professor or some kind of higher school official.

Why do they do it? Because they can and they get away with it. Many of these bullies are victims of abuse themselves, more often than not, such abuses may have been happening in the home. Children who bully other children have been known to act out their abuse and try to mask their pain by inflicting it on others.

PWDs who are victims of bullying and other forms of harassment, are specially protected by the law through Sec 39 of RA 9442, where public ridicule of any PWD in any form is punishable by a prison term and fines. Any PWD may file a case against his or her bully through the police. There is no special agency that will handle PWD complaints regarding matters like public ridicule and physical violence. The PNP can process such compliants through police blotters and the filing of charges.

If you are a victim of harassment or bullying, take comfort in the fact that there are laws designed to protect you as a PWD. Approach a law enforcer or authority figure in your home or school for assistance.

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