MANILA - There's still hope for bullies to change, a psychologist said following a student's dismissal from the Ateneo de Manila University Junior High School on Sunday after video of him beating up a schoolmate went viral.
The student's dismissal is only the first step to helping him recover through "restorative justice," said Dr. Randy Dellosa of the Life Change Recovery Center.
"Given the situation in the Ateneo, it's only right that he be dismissed. However, we also have to understand that plain dismissal or expulsion is the easy way out," he told ABS-CBN News.
Both the perpetrator and victims of the bullying incident, he said, should be monitored closely by their loved ones and given professional help if needed.
Dellosa said now may be the time for the student's family to assess the cause of his bullying behavior, which could be low self-esteem, maltreatment from others or a psychiatric condition like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or narcissism.
Knowing which factors contributed to the bullying behavior could help determine the type of help he needs like counseling or rehabilitation, said Dellosa.
The rehabilitation process could last up to a year and have lasting benefits, he said.
"Ang dami namang bullies din (there are many bullies) who were able to overcome their bullying tendencies. In fact, they used their assertiveness to help people later on in life," said the psychologist.
"And that's the purpose of restorative justice, na hindi lang i-punish, hindi natin ibu-bully kundi ire-restore natin (not just to punish, not to bully, but to restore him) so he can be a productive citizen of society."
Dellosa also said the student's expulsion from school may have both a positive and a negative impact: the victim may learn from the incident or resort to self-harm.
Bullying victims, meanwhile, may see the dismissal as a sign that the school is addressing their needs, he said.
However, they could also suffer from depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder, which may be addressed by intensive counseling or medication, he said.
Dellosa urged schools to include staff and community members in measures to curb and report bullying.
Schools, he added, should also encourage group therapy among those who have been bullied.
"There's strength in numbers. If they know they're not the only ones that suffered that ordeal then they can feel safer and more relaxed," he said.