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DepEd to tap mental health experts, advocates to address violence in schools

Following recent reports of violence in several schools, the Department of Education (DepEd) said Thursday it will seek help from mental health experts and advocates to craft and implement programs to address such issues.

DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa said this in light of the incident on Thursday morning where a 12 year-old student accidentally shot himself with a gun he brought inside the Benito Nieto Elementary School in San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan.

Last week, a minor student was killed when a fellow minor student stabbed him inside the Culiat High School in Quezon City.

Poa claimed that these incidents involving students may be related to mental health issues.

“We acknowledge the recent incidents involving violence in schools. We can see from the circumstances surrounding such incidents that they are related to mental health issues,” he said in a message to reporters.

“The Department commits to seek out mental health experts and advocates to be able to formulate and implement effective programs to address such issues at the school level,” he added.

With regards to security concerns in schools, Poa said Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte has tasked all regional and schools division offices to coordinate with their PNP counterparts in determining which schools need spot inspections of weapons among learners and staff.

“[She] has instructed our Field Operations to issue a directive for all Regional Offices and Schools Division Offices to coordinate with their PNP counterparts in the Region, Cities and Municipalities in identifying schools which require spot inspections of weapons among personnel and learners, and subsequently, a report on the actions taken,” Poa said.

In justifying its P150 million confidential fund for the fiscal year 2023, the Education Department said that surveillance and intelligence gathering are needed to ensure that its projects are target-specific and would result in the broader protection of their personnel and students against sexual abuse and all other forms of violence, graft, and corruption; involvement in illegal drugs of learners and personnel; recruitment to insurgency, terrorism, and violent extremism; child labor; child pornography; and recruitment to criminal activities, gangsterism, and financial and other scams.

Duterte herself had also admitted earlier that DepEd is dealing with a lot of problems involving learners such as sexual grooming and/or sexual abuse involving school officials/personnel, recruitment of children in criminal activities, drug use among youth, among others— RSJ, GMA Integrated News