by Olan Tonsay
Have you ever gone through an experience when your friends or classmates were having fun and laughing their hearts out, and then you realized that the one they were making fun of was you? Cruel as it may seem, this scenario is repeated to youngsters who fall prey to bullying.
Having fun among youngsters is considered one of the important itineraries of the day. Having a variety of sources to have fun breaks down monotony and boredom. However, having fun takes a degrading turn when persons become the object of other people’s fun. For some, bullying has become a source of their own brand of enjoyment.
This is what Obed experienced during his brief stay in a high-end school in southern Metro Manila.
The Real Problem
Obed has just turned Grade 8 this school year, and he is back to his former school. He feels relieved he’s back. He has been through a rough school year in his former school where he was a Grade 7 student.
His mom prodded him to transfer to a new school thinking that things would be a lot better for him after graduating elementary school. He acceded to his mom’s wishes, but not before voicing out his objection to it. He told her that staying on in his former school would be just fine and it suited him well, but his mom insisted on the idea.
Obed tried asking his Dad’s help to convince her Mom to allow him to stay in his school. He also enlisted his Grandma’s help, but his efforts proved futile. The following school year, he got enrolled in the new school that was just across the street from his former school. He was unaware that he would be going through one of the roughest years of his life.
Everything started out just fine. As a new student in a plush school, he underwent the usual orientation and tour for new students, and he was one of the bunch of hopeful newbies. Obed has his unique way of doing things that his teachers and classmates from his former school had come to accept, but unfortunately, it was not welcome in his new school.
Although the new school was supposedly coed, the boys and girls in all levels were divided into all-boy and all-girl sections. This proved to be a disadvantage for Obed.
His being different in certain ways caught the attention of the more domineering and aggressive classmates. Initially, they let him be, but he was under constant watch. Later on, some of the boys made unsavory comments about him for everyone in the class to hear whenever the teacher was not around. The situation deteriorated as school year went on, to the point that he was being picked on for simply being different and a newbie. He was the object of unhealthy jokes and pranks. It was bullying beyond compare.
Obed started withdrawing by coming late or being absent more often than usual. When in school he was seen sitting along the corridor beside his classroom, avoiding his classmates. He would stay in the library or in the guidance office to be spared from the bullying that he was getting every day. He reported his concern to his adviser, but his teacher was also part of the problem instead of becoming part of the solution.
Obed’s parents were called over to school to address the “perceived” problem about him whereas the real problem were the people around him. He struggled through the school year until his Mom pulled him out of the new school and brought him back to his former school. He can now be himself and feel accepted. He is back “home.”
Think It Over:
1. What is unique about Obed as a classmate and a student?
2. Why did he transfer to a new school after graduating from the elementary level?
3. Was it a wise move on the part of Obed’s mother to transfer him to another school? Why?
4. Describe the series of events that led to the bullying of Obed.
5. If you were Obed’s classmate, what would you do with what’s going on in class? Why?
Healthy Competition and Relationships
There are many more Obeds out there who have just kept mum about the abuse and bullying that they experience from their classmates. These are the silent victims who endure almost weekly, if not daily, abuse from classmates and, sometimes, from teachers. One can imagine the many victims walking around the school who bring with them the pains, hurts, shame, and embarrassment caused by unkind and heartless bullies, not to mention the fear and anxiety that they harbor whenever their tormentors are around.
Based on a consolidated report of the Department of Education (DepEd), bullying cases in elementary and high school in both private and public schools in 2014 increased by 21% reaching a total of 6,363 cases, compared with 5,236 of 2013. This is translated to 31 daily cases of bullying during the school year. The data was provided by Representative Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr. of the House of Representatives (Ref. ASKSONNIE.info).
NoBullying.com has placed that one in every two Filipino children has witnessed violence or abuse in school. They have witnessed different types of bullying which include name-calling, teasing, exclusion, or forcing the victim to do things that are against their will and are considered degrading. This information reveals that the cases of bullying are widespread.
It is quite unfortunate to note that jokes, supposedly a fun-filled activity among youngsters, can become a tool for bullying. Many students have to equate insults and other degrading acts with jokes. Having fun by subjecting someone to uncalled for harassment and embarrassment is not having fun at all. Youngsters should be aware of the difference between a healthy joke and a joke that is an act of bullying.
The Anti-Bullying Law that was passed in 2013 criminalizes such acts. This law is intended to prevent or thwart any type of bullying and such law is applied with Department of Education (DepEd) Order No. 40, series of 2012 known as the “Child Protection Policy.” Both require the school administration to implement them, and any incidence of abuse in school, bullying included, should be reported immediately to DepEd.
However, no amount of vigilance on the part of the teachers, school staff, and administration will be effective if the students, both victims and witnesses, remain silent with what is going on.
Here are some ways to prevent and stop cases of bullying in school:
Avoidance. Whenever and wherever possible, avoid or stay away from known or potential bullies in school. Exposing yourself to them is making yourself more vulnerable to bullying. You are not a coward because you are not running away from them. You are just avoiding the possibility of being bullied.
Intervention. When you are a witness to bullying, politely ask those who are bullying to refrain from doing so. Intervene only when able and capable. You should not do so when your safety and security is at risk. You should be judicious with your course of action. Being a hero can sometimes get you into trouble. Resort to the next option.
Reporting. Speak out. When you witness firsthand any case or act of bullying, make it a point to report the incident to persons of authority. Dilly-dallying from reporting or any form of delay will reduce the chance of stopping an incident. It should be done immediately to expedite intervention and solution. If you are the victim of bullying, shun fear of reprisal and report the incident just the same. This will tell the bullies that they cannot wield their will on you and you do not want to be their victim.
Prayer. Let God accompany you through this entire experience. Let him enlighten you with what to do best in your situation, may you be the bully, the bullied, or the bystander. Ask him to heal the wounds that bullying has inflicted on you and all those involved. Draw strength from him, knowing that Jesus cares for you always. Let him be your strength and wisdom in dealing with this difficult ordeal.