MANILA, Philippines?Seven out of 10 students in Grades IV to VI and high schools, and at least 4 out of 10 in Grades I to III have experienced violence in school, according to a study on violence against children in the country?s public schools.
Verbal abuse is the most prevalent form of violence at all school levels, which includes being shouted at, cursed at, ridiculed, teased or humiliated, according to the study.
Physical violence included pinching, throwing things at a child, spanking, making a child stand under the sun, locking a child in a room or enclosed space, and sexual assault.
The acts of violence increase in frequency as the child moves up to higher grade levels, according to the study.
The study, ?Towards a Child-friendly Environment?Baseline Study on Violence Against Children,? was released Tuesday at a press briefing attended by students, parents, academics in Quezon City.
The study, meant as a contribution to the Philippines? follow-up action to the World Report on Violence Against Children in 2006, was a collaboration among Plan International, United Nations Children?s Fund (Unicef), the Australian Government Overseas Aid Program (AusAid), Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) and the Philippine Women?s University.
A total of 6,931 students were surveyed from nine areas in the country: Six rural provinces?Mountain Province, Masbate, Northern Samar, Capiz, Camotes Island (Cebu) and Sultan Kudarat?and three cities?Manila, Cebu and Davao. The study also interviewed parents, teachers and guidance counselors.
Of the students who participated, 50.64 percent were elementary schoolchildren, and 49.36 percent were high school students. Elementary students were further grouped into Grades I to III and Grades IV to VI, and given different questionnaires.
As defined in the study, violence against children refers to any act that violates children?s rights, particularly their right to physical and mental health, security and bodily integrity.
Aside from physical violence that results in injury, the study said violent acts like spanking, beating, pinching or slapping, were being tolerated?or ?socialized??as acceptable ways to discipline children.
?Instead of being looked at as a case of violence and abuse, bullying is oftentimes dismissed as simply petty quarrels between and among children,? the study said.
It said that corporal punishment, or the use of physical force to inflict pain, was justified in the context of discipline, especially if it is viewed as commensurate to a child?s offense.
Vanessa Tobin, Unicef representative in the Philippines, said the study would guide different stakeholders in addressing the problem and ensuring a child-friendly school where students are safe and healthy.
?We think that a slight smack on children is not acceptable and does not encourage learning,? she stressed.