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Gatchalian calls for stronger anti-cyberbullying efforts as students spend more time online

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday called for stronger efforts to prevent cyberbullying as many students are expected to spend more time online for distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Kahit na nananatili ang ating mga mag-aaral sa kanilang mga bahay, patuloy dapat ang ating mga hakbang upang protektahan ang ating mga mag-aaral dahil hindi nawawala ang posibilidad na makaranas sila ng bullying at iba pang anyo ng pang-aabuso at karahasan," Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on basic education, said in a statement.

He said the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013 mandates all elementary and secondary schools to adopt policies that would address bullying.

Out of 79 countries that participated in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018, the Philippines had the highest incidence of bullying with 65% of Filipino high school students experiencing it "at least a few times a month," the senator underscored.

Citing the latest National Baseline Study on Violence Against Children, Gatchalian also said that 43.8% of Filipinos aged 13 to 17 experienced cyber violence—a third of them were on the receiving end of digital verbal abuse.

The lawmaker warned that bullying may result in poor academic performance and increased tendency to skip classes and drop out.

School Year 2020-2021 in the Philippines will open on August 24. Blended learning platforms such as the internet, TV, radio, as well as printed self-learning modules will be used in the absence of face-to-face classes due to COVID-19.—AOL, GMA News