Ateneo student's dismissal just first step vs bullying, says DepEd

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Department of Education (DepEd) on Sunday, December 23, said that the dismissal of the Ateneo de Manila Junior High School student is just the first step in addressing the "long-standing challenge" of bullying in schools.

"While the child will leave the premises of Ateneo, he will be carrying with him...whatever burdens he has which drove him to the kind of behavior which he exhibited," Education Secretary Leonor Briones said.

"At the same time, the victims...will also be carrying the burden, the terror, and the trauma of their experience," she added.

Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) president Fr Jose Ramon Villarin announced on Sunday that the school decided to dismiss the student "after a thorough investigation."

Videos showing the student bullying his peers sparked a national conversation on bullying in the country's educational institutions.

Briones urged ADMU and other schools to review their protocols and policies in handling incidents of bullying and to align these with the Anti-Bullying Act.

Bullying, she said, "is not just a problem of ADMU...but it is also a problem of society itself."

"We also believe this is a wake-up call for the entire community, for all those who believe in education, for all those who believe in the protection of learners...and that our learners should be shaped and nurtured in the ways of peace," Briones said.

She also called for "strengthened coordination, consultation, and exchange of experiences between and among public and private schools to address all forms of violence against children."

"Most importantly, the department reiterates the role of peers and teachers in stepping in and anticipating possible incidents of violence against children, and in taking action as quickly as possible before matters get out of hand," Briones said in a separate statement on Monday, December 24. –