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Gatchalian airs concern over unreported bullying cases in schools

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday expressed concern over the supposed unreported bullying cases in schools as he noted the discrepancies between data from the Department of Education and several studies and reports.

At a Senate hearing, DepEd Assistant Secretary Dexter Galban reported the following figures on bullying:

2014-2015: 5,624
2015-2016: 7,221
2016-2017: 8,750
2017-2018: 15,866
2018-2019: 21,521
2019-2020: 11,637

Galban attributed the decrease of bullying cases in school years 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 to the shift from face-to-face learning to online classes.

In the data provided, Galban said they segregated the data into the following classifications:

Physical bullying: 56.79%
Social bullying: 25.43%
Gender-based/biased: 5.92%
Cyberbullying: 6.03%
Retaliation: 5.83%

However, Gatchalian was hesitant to believe DepEd's figures as he pointed out the study from the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) showed that 63% of Grade 5 students experienced bullying —the highest in the region.

He also presented the study of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) which reported that 40% of Filipino students are frequently bullied.

These figures are consistent with the World Health Organization (WHO) report, which showed that 40.6% of children aged 13 to 17 experience some form of bullying.

"This is quite worrisome and concerning because the percentage showed that six out of ten students have experienced some form of bullying," Gatchalian said.

The senator also mentioned a GMA News report where Galban said a total of 264,668 cases of physical bullying were reported by DepEd during the school year 2021-2022.

"If you look at your numbers, ang layo... So if you talk about converting that to student population, you're talking about 10 million to 12 million students as supposed to 11,000," he added.

This prompted Gatchalian to conclude that there are a lot of unreported bullying cases. 

"Ang conclusion ko dyan is maraming unreported," he said.

Gatchalian said that in large-scale examinations, students "tell the truth" because they know that the evaluation will be processed by people who are not connected to their schools.

"There is fear na baka malaman ng na[m]bu-bully kung sino sila. So my analysis is there is a huge issue of cases being unreported, and that is a problem because if it is unreported, then how do we solve the problem? How do we help them?" asked Gatchalian.

Galban said they will confer with their research team as well as the planning services of DepEd to reconcile the data.

"There's also notable difficulty in being able to monitor the number of bullying cases, moreso in the lack of registered guidance counselors that are available to the schools... Because all of the responsibility in terms of addressing such issues fall within the shoulders of our teachers who are already overloaded," Galban explained. —Hana Bordey/ VAL, GMA Integrated News