Building a Safe Haven for Children in School Communities

Building a safe haven for children in school communities

By Hannah M. Morillo

As part of the advocacy to prevent bullying on the most basic level of society, Dr. Ma. Lourdes “Honey” Carandang, has been working hard to stop this behavior before it escalates to more serious forms in the Philippine society. Part of this campaign is to reach out to schools and educate the teachers about the nature, causes and effects, and ways to prevent bullying in the school setting. On August 13, 2012, Dr. Carandang gave a talk on “Understanding School Violence and Creating a Caring School Community” at the Don Bosco School in Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

What was awe-inspiring about the talk that Dr Carandang gave was that it was grounded on the significance of preserving the dignity of the Filipino child, instead of simply highlighting the destructive effects of bullying in school. Starting with clearly defining, stating case studies, then moving on to illustrating concrete examples, made the talk interactive and open for further interesting discussions. It thus created a proactive approach to involve everyone in school, the teachers and administrators, the students, and parents, in the urgency of preventing bullying. The participants of the talk were made aware that it is not only the sole responsibility of a sector or a stakeholder, but the duty of each and everyone to maintain a caring and nurturing environment in school where safety and human dignity are safeguarded.

In the said event, the teachers of Don Bosco, understood their role as the “bystander” and how one must intervene to end the cycle. They were also wary that the roles in the “bullying system” can change, as it is dynamic, depending on the shift in power. The enumeration of the kinds of bullies made one more mindful of the various ways people can harm the other; labeling the other as “bully” is not enough to break this cycle.

The feedback session that proceeded after the talk became an avenue for raising thoughtful questions, both from their personal and professional experiences. The questions ranged from effective sanctions for the bully, cultural or Filipino distinctions of the bullying phenomenon, citing instances when bullying is passively accepted by the norm, and practical inquiries on dealing with aggressive behavior. There were also self-improvement queries on how to better give authentic affirmations, and suggestions were sought regarding reinforcing the good behavior of the child.

In the end, the event served as a truly insightful exercise to reiterate the rights of the child and their basic psychological needs, and how bullying counteracts this. The teachers felt empowered to reach out and fulfill their roles to stop and prevent this phenomenon from happening. They were confident to take on the challenge of Dr. Carandang to model this kind of caring school environment so that other institutions could learn from their (hopefully) successful implementations.

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