“High incidence of bullying in PH public schools alarming” – EDCOM 2

Researchers from the De La Salle University and the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM 2) today released findings of several studies on bullying in the Philippines, with the results highlighting the alarming prevalence of bullying in schools. 

In an EDCOM 2 Sub-committee Meeting on Basic Education Meeting on  Bullying and Home & School Environment held on June 13, 2024, results of a series of studies entitled “Understanding Bullying in Philippine Education: Impacts and Opportunities for Change1 “ were presented. 

Striking PISA 2018 and 2022 Reports

“One of the most striking findings in the Program from International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 results was that the Philippines had the highest percentage of bullying among all participating countries and territories (OECD, 2019). This trend was replicated in the PISA 2022 assessment although the percentage was lower in this round of assessment (OECD, 2023),” says Dr. Allan B.I. Bernardo, a distinguished university professor and university fellow from DLSU. 

According to the PISA 2019, 65% of Filipino students reported being victims of any type of bullying at least a few times in a month, with 40% being bullied frequently (once a week or more). On the other hand,  the PISA 2022 reports that one out three Filipino students are being bullied in schools. This is about 43% of girls and 53% of boys in the Philippines encounter bullying incidents multiple times a month. This is much higher than the OECD average of 20% of girls, and 21% of boys. 

“International large-scale assessments show us an alarmingly high prevalence of bullying in our schools, which threatens the safety and well-being of our learners. Since we are also looking at the possibility that actual bullying incidents are underreported, we need to ensure that DepEd has strong reporting mechanisms so we can fully capture what is happening on the ground,” EDCOM 2 Co-Chairperson Senator Win Gatchalian said.

EDCOM 2 Executive Director Dr. Karol Mark Yee pointed out the discrepancy between data reported by DepEd and data released by international assessments, citing the alarmingly high incidence of bullying in the country as shown in the PISA and the SEA-PLM. “Parang ang layo ng numbers na collected [by DepEd], and the data collected by Trends in International Mathematics and Science Studies (TIMMS)  and PISA. Can these numbers be reconciled?”, asked EDCOM 2 Co-Chairperson Rep. Roman Romulo.

Source:  Learner Rights and Protection Office – Department of Education. Data as of June 10, 2024

DepEd clarified that there were actually reports collated annually at the Central Office coming from divisions, however these remain unverified. The data shows however that from 2013 (the year the Anti Bullying Law was passed) to 2018, the number of reported bullying cases surged from 1,158 to 20,172.

Romulo added, “The law was passed in 2013. From then, until last year, bakit hindi na-identify [yung reporting issues?]. Maliwanag naman ‘yung batas. DepEd knew the responsibilities that they had. Why did it take this long [to implement the law]?”

Usec. Escobedo explained that the responsibility of monitoring bullying cases passed between different units in the Department through the years. He also explained that not all Child Protection Committees (CPCs) in schools were functional, and it was only recently, when they  formulated a functionality tool to assess the level of operationalization of  the CPC’s responsibilities. 

“Considering that all members of the CPCs are just designated representatives, who actually fulfills its many responsibilities day-to-day under the DepEd Order 40, series of 2012? For instance, to conduct information dissemination programs, handle referral of cases, assist parents and guardians, and coordinate with the PNP and NGOs?” asked Yee.

Under DepEd Order 40, series of 2012, CPCs are composed of the School Head as  Chairperson, the Guidance Counselor/Teacher as Vice Chairperson, as well as representatives of teachers, parents, students, and the community.

Kahit na matagal na ‘yung batas, sa totoo, last year lang talaga natutukan ng DepEd, by creating an ad hoc office and by asking for personnel. So right now, we don’t actually know the depth of the problem – ‘yung dimensions ng problema – ng bullying. Kasi last year lang pala naumpisahan ‘yung Learners’ Rights Protection Office (LRPO)”, said Cong. Romulo.

Five bullying studies completed

Through the partnership between De La Salle University and the EDCOM II, five studies on bullying were published. Led by Dr. Bernardo, other scholars included Katrina F. Resurreccion, Ma. Caridad H. Tarroja, Rene M. Nob, Macario O. Cordel II, Rochelle Irene G. Lucas, Minie Rose C. Lapinid, Thomas James Tiam-Lee, Geselle Manguiat, Althea Patricia Aranillo, Jim Rey R. Baloloy, Reinier Dave Zapanta, Elaine Marie D. Aranda, Joel C. Narvaez, Rosette D. Morga, and Patricia Mae A. Taba. 

Dr. Bernardo, presenting an overview of the studies, noted that tackling bullying calls for school-wide anti-bullying approaches. “Bullying is not just one thing. We need to look at it as sustaining and supporting the whole school environment”. He stressed the need for programs ranging from education and prevention, to handling consequences of bullying for victims, perpetrators, and witnesses.

Bullying hotspots: Regions XIII and MIMAROPA, congested public schools

The DLSU study highlighted how the school structure and environment, and the level of support they get from adults can predict exposure to bullying among students. According to Nob, et.al., bullying is more prevalent in public schools with large class sizes, discriminatory teacher behavior, and lower levels of competition and discipline.  Bullying is also more widespread in public schools with a higher percentage of students coming from lower socioeconomic environments. 

One of the studies developed a digital visualization tool using data from the 2019 PISA report to map bullying hotspots in the country. According to the findings of Cordel, et.al, Regions XIII and IV-B MIMAROPA were identified to have the highest incidence of bullying, followed by Regions XII, V, and I. 

Findings of Baloloy et,al., revealed that Filipinos who are bullied often deal with mental health concerns like depression and anxiety, and experience both traditional physical bullying, and relational cyberbullying. Other factors influencing bullying include psychosocial issues and the learner’s environment, such as school safety, relationships with their parents, and their prevailing attitudes towards bullying.

Amend IRR of Anti Bullying Act of 2013, pass mental health bills

The DLSU team recommended for EDCOM to push for amendments to the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 10627, strengthening the provisions related to the Child Protection Committee (CPC), improving systems for reporting bullying cases, and clarifying DepEd’s structures and systems related to bullying.

During the hearing, the EDCOM decided to establish a joint Technical Working Group composed of the members of the EDCOM 2 Standing Committee on Basic Education, together with DepEd, to review the IRR of RA 10627, and to propose reforms to make the policy implementable.

“Let’s not disappoint – because madami na talagang good plans, but hindi talaga na-iimplement, and we end up disappointing our teachers, our students, and the DepEd family itself. So let’s do our part. Let’s make it work, so we don’t disappoint our parents, teachers, and our learners. We have good plans, but we couldn’t implement them”, said Rep. Romulo. 

Download the full report of “Understanding Bullying in Philippine Education: Impacts and Opportunities for Change” at https://edcom2.gov.ph/publications/ 


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