MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Education (DepEd) issued on Thursday a child protection policy and guidelines that will be implemented starting this school year.
The policy stipulates that any form of physical, verbal, mental and emotional abuse against children, whether by school personnel or their peers, shall be addressed and sanctioned accordingly.
According to DepEd Undersecretary Alberto Muyot, students and parents will be more empowered against abuse and violence in schools.
Reporting and sanctions
Victims are encouraged to report incidents within 48 hours, and an investigation should be carried out by school administrators within 72 hours.
Administrators who will fail to address such issues may also be sanctioned for neglect of duty.
The DepEd will first try "psycho-social intervention" in cases of bullying or peer abuse.
The department will partner with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and other organizations to deal with the issue.
If a minor who bullies other students repeats the same offense after the DepEd's interventions, school authorities may now resort to sanctions such as suspension and community service.
According to DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro, this is the first time that specific guidelines against child abuse in schools have been laid out.
He believes teachers can come up with other ways to discipline students.
According to a DepEd survey, 50% of students say they have experienced corporal abuse in school, while 74% claim they have been victims of bullying.