Bullied? Counseling now a phone call away; ‘Amalayer girl’ welcome
The “Amalayer girl” may be just a phone call away from counseling.
Alarmed by the rising incidence of bullying in schools and on cyberspace, the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) has opened a hotline that would link up victims with professional therapists.
Speaking at Thursday’s Kapihan sa PPS in Quezon City, the organization’s spokesman, Dr. Francis Xavier Dimalanta, said the hotline—926-6758—is also open to schools that wish to start campaigns or programs against bullying.
“The primary goal here is to put a stop to bullying,” said Dimalanta, a consultant at the Institute of Pediatrics and Child Health of St. Luke’s Medical Center-Global City. “We have to resolve not to be a bully, help those who are being bullied and speak up against bullying.”
Dimalanta noted that most people are reluctant to admit that they are bullies or are victims of bullying. Yet US studies show that one of seven children are considered bullies or victims, 56 percent of schoolchildren have witnessed bullying incidents, 15 percent would skip classes for fear of being bullied, and one of 10 children has dropped out after being bullied, he said.
The following, he said, are just some of the signs that a child is being bullied: refusal to go to school for no clear reason, loss of appetite, difficulty in sleeping, failing grades, and changes in the way the child dresses up or prepares for class.
Dimalanta also noted that cyber-bullying in the Philippines had worsened lately due to the lack of concrete programs in schools to address this problem.
In an Inquirer interview, the PPS official said the hotline is open not only to children but even to the likes of the so-called “Amalayer girl”—the train passenger who was recently caught on video berating a lady security guard and later became the target of intense Internet jeering after the clip went viral.
“She can call the hotline and we would offer her help,” Dimalanta said, noting that victims of cyber-bullying usually do not have anyone or any place to turn to when up against anonymous hecklers.
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