Republic Act 10627, or the Anti-Bullying Act (the “Act”), aims to protect children enrolled in kindergarten, elementary, and secondary schools and learning centers (collectively, “Schools”) from being bullied. It requires Schools to adopt policies to address the existence of bullying in their respective institutions.
1. What is Bullying?
Bullying, as defined under the Act, is any severe or repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another student that has the effect of actually causing or placing the latter in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm or damage to his property; creating a hostile environment at school for the other student; infringing on the rights of the other student at school; or materially and substantially disrupting the education process or the orderly operation of a school; such as, but not limited to, the following:
Any unwanted physical contact between the bully and the victim like punching, pushing, shoving, kicking, slapping, tickling, headlocks, inflicting school pranks, teasing, fighting and the use of available objects as weapons;
Any act that causes damage to a victim’s psyche and/or emotional well-being;
Any slanderous statement or accusation that causes the victim undue emotional distress like directing foul language or profanity at the target, name-calling, tormenting and commenting negatively on victim’s looks, clothes and body; and
Cyber-bullying or any bullying done through the use of technology or any electronic means. The term shall also include any conduct resulting to harassment, intimidation, or humiliation, through the use of other forms of technology, such as, but not limited to texting, email, instant messaging, chatting, internet, social media, online games, or other platforms or formats.
Social bullying, or any deliberate, repetitive and aggressive social behavior intended to hurt others or to belittle another individual or group.
Gender-based bullying, or any act that humiliates or excludes a person on the basis of perceived or actual sexual orientation and gender identity.
As such, any person who commits any of the foregoing acts, is considered a bully. Furthermore, any act of retaliation against a person who reports bullying, who provides information during an investigation of bullying, or who is a witness to or has reliable information about bullying, is likewise prohibited.
2. Where may bullying be committed?
Bullying may happen at the following:
Property immediately adjacent to School grounds;
School-sponsored or School-related activities, functions or programs whether on or off School grounds;
School bus stops;
School buses or other vehicles owned, leased or used by a School; or
School buses or School services privately-owned but accredited by the School.
Bullying may also occur at unrelated locations, functions or programs, through the use of technology or an electronic device or other forms of media, regardless if such is owned, leased, or used by the School.
C. School Obligations
1. What are required of Schools under the Act?
Schools are directed to adopt policies, which are to be regularly updated, to address the existence of bullying in their respective institutions. These policies are to be reported to the appropriate school division superintendent of the Department of Education (“Department”) during the first week of every academic year. During this period, the School shall also submit a report of relevant information and statistics on bullying and retaliation culled from the previous academic year.
2. What must these policies contain?
First of all, the policies must prohibit bullying as already defined. Schools must likewise define the range of administrative disciplinary actions that may be taken against a bully, or a person who commits retaliation. These actions must be commensurate with the nature and gravity of the offense committed. Such actions may include written reprimands, community service, suspension, exclusion or expulsion, as the case may be. In addition to any action taken against a perpetrator of bullying or retaliation must necessarily include the requirement that the perpetrator enter into a rehabilitation program administered by the School.
The School shall also educate parents and guardians about bullying, its effects, the anti-bullying policies of the School, and how such parents or guardians can provide support in imparting upon their charges the gravity of bullying, and to reinforce the policies of the School. The School shall provide the students and their parents or guardians with copies of these policies, which shall likewise be included in the student and employee manual of the School.
The School shall likewise establish clear procedures and strategies for:
Reporting acts of bullying or retaliation. The School must provide an avenue wherein students may anonymously report acts of bullying or retaliation;
Responding promptly to and investigating reports of bullying or retaliation;
Restoring a sense of safety for a victim and assessing the student’s need for protection;
Protecting from bullying or retaliation of a person who reports acts of bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or is witness to or has reliable information about an act of bullying; and
Providing counseling or referral to appropriate services for perpetrators, victims and appropriate family members of said students;
In all cases wherein a penalty may possibly be imposed, due process must be observed to prevent false accusations of bullying. At a minimum, the School complies with the requirements of due process by:
Informing the student and parent or guardian of the complaint in writing;
Giving the student, with the assistance of his parents or guardian, an opportunity to answer the complaint in writing;
Requiring the School head to issue the decision, in writing, and stating the facts and reasons thereof; and
Allowing an appeal for the decision with the appropriate division office of the Department.
Any student, after due investigation, found to have knowingly made a false accusation of bullying shall be subjected to appropriate disciplinary action or intervention in accordance with the rules of the School or the Department.
3. Who will implement these anti-bullying policies of the School?
The School’s Child Protection Committee (“Committee”) shall serve as the body which will handle all bullying cases in the School. The Committee shall be composed of:
the School head or administrator as chairperson;
the School guidance counselor/teacher as vice chairperson;
a representative of the Schools teachers as designated by the School faculty;
a representative of the parents as designated by the Parents-Teachers Association;
a representative of the students, except in kindergarten, as designated by the student council; and
a representative of the community as designated by the barangay captain wherein the school is located. The inclusion of a community representative may be dispensed with by private Schools.
4. What are the duties of the Committee?
Under the Act, they shall perform the following:
Conduct awareness-raising programs with school stakeholders in preventing and addressing bullying;
Ensure that the anti-bullying policy adopted by the School is implemented;
Monitor all cases or incidents related to all reported cases of bullying; and
Make the necessary referrals to appropriate agencies, offices or persons, as may be required by the circumstances.
5. How does the School treat the information in bullying cases?
Any information relating to the identity and personal circumstances of the bully, victim, or person who reported or witnessed the incident shall be treated with utmost confidentiality by the Committee and the School, provided, that the names may only be available to the School head or administrator, teacher or guidance counselor designated by the school head, and parents or guardians of students who are or have been victims of bullying or retaliation.
6. What happens if the School, or its personnel, fails to comply with the Act?
School personnel of public Schools shall be subject to administrative disciplinary proceedings under the rules of the Civil Service or the Department. Erring personnel of private Schools shall be subject to appropriate administrative disciplinary proceedings imposed by the private School. Copies of such decisions shall be submitted by the private School to the Department’s division office.
Private Schools which fail to comply with the Act and its IRR shall be shall be given notice of such failure by the Department’s division office. The School shall be given thirty (30) days within which to comply. A further extension of one (1) month may me be granted by the Department’s Regional Director in meritorious cases. Failure to comply with the Act or its IRR may cause the School’s suspension, or revocation of license.
Download the full text of RA 10627