President Benigno Aquino III signed the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013 on on 12 September 2013. The law (Republic Act No. 10627) is an act requiring schools to adopt policies to prevent and address all acts of bullying in their institutions. Here’s a primer of the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013:
Does the law impose criminal sanctions on bullies?
No. However, disciplinary actions, possibly including suspension or expulsion, could be imposed pursuant to the rules and regulations that may be issued pursuant to the law. The bully is also required to go through a rehabilitation program. The principal or responsible officer may also notify the police or other law enforcement agencies if he/she believes that criminal charges under the Revised Penal Code may be pursued against the bully.
What is bullying?
Bullying refers to any severe or repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another student that has the effect of actually causing or placing the latter in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm or damage to his property; creating a hostile environment at school for the other student; infringing on the rights of the other student at school; or materially and substantially disrupting the education process or the orderly operation of a school; such as, but not limited to, the following:
a. Any unwanted physical contact between the bully and the victim like punching, pushing, shoving, kicking, slapping, tickling, headlocks, inflicting school pranks, teasing, fighting and the use of available objects as weapons;
b. Any act that causes damage to a victim’s psyche and/or emotional well-being;
c. Any slanderous statement or accusation that causes the victim undue emotional distress like directing foul language or profanity at the target, name-calling, tormenting and commenting negatively on victim’s looks, clothes and body; and
d. Cyber-bullying or any bullying done through the use of technology or any electronic means.
What educational institutions are covered by the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013?
The law covers all elementary and secondary schools, both public and private. Schools are required to adopt policies to address the existence of bullying in their respective institutions. These policies shall include a number of required provisions, including:
(a) Prohibit the following acts:
(1) Bullying on school grounds; property immediately adjacent to school grounds; at school-sponsored or school-related activities, functions or programs whether on or off school grounds; at school bus stops; on school buses or other vehicles owned, leased or used by a school; or through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased or used by a school;
(2) Bullying at a location, activity, function or program that is not school-related and through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased or used by a school if the act or acts in question create a hostile environment at school for the victim, infringe on the rights of the victim at school, or materially and substantially disrupt the education process or the orderly operation of a school; and
(3) Retaliation against a person who reports bullying, who provides information during an investigation of bullying, or who is a witness to or has reliable information about bullying;
(b) Identify the range of disciplinary administrative actions that may be taken against a perpetrator for bullying or retaliation which shall be commensurate with the nature and gravity of the offense.
Is anonymous reporting allowed?
Yes. The implementing rules must provide for a mechanism for anonymous reporting. However, no disciplinary administrative action shall be taken against a perpetrator solely on the basis of an anonymous report. Proper investigation must be conducted.
What if the accusation of bullying is false?
The rules to be issued pursuant to the Anti-Bulling Act of 2013 must include a provision subjecting a student who knowingly makes a false accusation of bullying to disciplinary administrative action.