BONTOC, Mountain Province – One of the recent thrusts in education is the enactment of R.A 10627 commonly known as Anti-Bullying Act of 2013 requiring all elementary and secondary schools to adopt policies to prevent and address the act of bullying in their institutions. This was expressed by the Department of Education through memoranda or through the conduct of trainings and seminars. Bullying is defined as the act of repeated, aggressive behaviour intended to hurt another individual, physically, mentally or emotionally. It can be characterized by an individual behaving in a certain way to gain power over another person. This September is a very appropriate time to rekindle the issue as we celebrate crime prevention week.
Bullying in schools has been a common inevitable problem among pupils or students that parents, teachers, administrators and other school personnel should not take for granted.
Thus, they should help hand-in-hand to ensure the safety of school children. The concept with regards bullying must be understood and made known to students and they must be advised to immediately report bullying incidents to parents or school authorities for action regardless of the gravity of the offense.
Small incidents should not be ignored because if there will be no intervention, it could reach a point where someone could get hurt. Indeed, no one would like this to happen.
This possibility could be avoided when proper adult intervention is given as early as trouble occurs. Once trouble is spotted or felt by either parents or teachers, discussing the matter through parent-teacher conferences could be an effective means in such a way that they could think and plan for interventions to help the child handle it.
As a teacher, it is sad to note that acts of bullying are not only true among students butto teachers and school administrators alike and this could also be true to other workplaces. Several cases of verbal and non-verbal abuses in workplaces such as in school stay unnoticed which greatly affect the system of education. A phenomenon known as Lateral violence or aggression is a term that would describe acts of bullying in the workplace. In her article, Julie Donley, Director of Nursing at Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, wrote that “Lateral violence, in essence, is abusive acts committed against people we work with; people who like us are making a living and who are doing the best way they can.” In the school as a work place, it is an act of aggression perpetuated by one teacher against another or someone in the higher position dominating a less powerful individual or group (the teachers) or vice-versa.
Some common manifestations of Lateral violence include verbal insult or humiliation, undermining act, withholding information, sabotage, infighting, scapegoating, backstabbing, failure to respect privacy “tsismis” and broken confidences. This kind of bullying in the workplace occurs when an employee experiences persistent pattern of maltreatment, in any form as indicated earlier, from others in the workplace that causes harm. Most common acts of aggression among teachers in the workplace is the societal disease of “tsismis” or the act of destroying/degrading a person by making up stories or telling things that are untrue about a person whether overt or covert.
This act is very unfair on the part of innocent victims for they have to suffer on something they do not deserve. Truly, the power of the tongue is fatal. It may not destroy a person physically but emotionally and mentally which is even worse since it’s very difficult to heal unlike bodily wounds.
Lateral violence causes negative effects to the target and to the workplace as a whole. The victim may experience humiliation, stress, anxiety, depression, and post traumatic disorder that may lead to a decline in employee morale and eventually causes job dissatisfaction or a change in the organizational culture. Anger and retaliation may developin the victim and the moment this is built, it can result to dispute that further leads to diminished teamwork and poor performance. Eventually, some may choose to leave the workplace or profession when conflict becomes unbearable.
Now to avoid the ill effects of bullying, something must be done to lessen the plague that victimizes innocent teachers/employees. All of us definitely can be promoters of Anti-bullying and can be a part of the solution to the problem. If all teachers/employees understand the concept of bullying, lateral violence, aggression or whatever it is termed and live by the DepEd’s core value of “pagigingmakatao;” manage their emotions and assert themselves professionally, then it can make a great impact in avoiding the possible negative effects of this serious problem that we face in the workplace (the school).