House bill seeking to penalize bullying in schools, workplaces filed
MANILA, Philippines — A bill that would penalize people of legal age proven to have been bullying people in school, at work, or even on the internet has been filed before the House of Representatives.
According to House Bill No. 2886 filed by PBA party-list Margarita Nograles, individuals aged 15 and above but not over 18, and who acted without discernment based on an assessment would be subjected to intervention programs facilitated by either the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or the local government units concerned.
However, once the person found guilty of bullying is above over 18 years old, or between 15 to 18 years old but acted with discernment, they may be imprisoned for a maximum of six years.
All those found to be engaged in the act of bullying — regardless of age and discernment — will have to comply with civil liabilities including a penalty ranging from P50,000 to P100,000.
“Having established and equipped with national helpline through the passing of the Republic Act No. 10627 or the Anti-Bullying Act of on September 12, 2013, the prevalence of bullying in the country has not gotten down drastically. In fact, at least 6 out of 10 students are being bullied, which is nearly 3 times higher compared to developed countries,” Nograles said in her explanatory note.
“According to the Unicef, the latest data in the country show that cyberviolence affects almost half of children aged 13-17. This violence experienced by Filipino children in the form of verbal abuse and most of them are in the form of sexual messages and we all know that these can create long lasting emotional and psychological scars in every child who experienced being bullied,” she added.
Under Nograles’ proposal, the following acts shall be considered acts of bullying:
- Any unwanted physical contact between the bully and the victim like punching, pushing, shoving, kicking, slapping, tickling, headlocks, inflicting excessive pranks, teasing, fighting, and the use of available objects as weapons
- Any act that causes damage to a victim’s psychological 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 the victim’s looks, clothes, and body;
- Cyber-bullying is done through any conduct resulting in 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, other platforms or formats;
- Gender-based bullying – any act that humiliates or excludes a person on the basis of perceived or actual sexual orientation and gender identity. 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
- Social Bullying — any deliberate, repetitive, and aggressive social behavior intended to hurt others or to belittle another individual or group
Nograles said her bill would codify what constitutes bullying and what does not.
“This bill seeks to stop bullying by placing ‘Hammurabi’s Code’ on the law by attaching penalties and huge fines and create a more peaceful and tranquil environment for our children and human beings in general,” Nograles said.
— With reports from Catherine Dabu, Inquirer.net trainee
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