Updated May 17 , 2012- I recently appeared on Talkback with Tina Palma on Bullying. This is my updated post on Bullying in Philippine Schools and added the latest Department of Education policy on bullying.

This is a guest post by my daughter, Lauren. I’ve always wanted to tackle the topic of bullying for a long time now since I was so problematic about it during Lauren’s early years at school. The harrowing effects of bullying are best illustrated by the victim. In this case, Lauren tells her story.

Photo Credit: kidsgoals.com

I attended a private, all-girl schools from elementary up until high school and I can tell you – those were far from the best years of my life. I don’t know if it’s really in my nature to be shy and socially awkward or if my experiences in school turned me into that kind of person. One thing I do know is that a lot of the insecurities I have about myself is rooted in the fact that I got bullied a lot during my early elementary school years.

I can never forget my first bully. Her name is Kathleen and her family owned the school bus service I rode to school and back during my elementary years. We were both in grade one and for some strange reason, she took an instant dislike to me. I have no idea why – I’ve always been a quiet sort of kid who always stood out of other people’s way and I can’t remember doing or saying anything that would make her hate me. But hate me she did. She never beat me up or anything – oh no, girls are way more subtle and cruel than that. She had her own circle of friends and was somehow able to convince them to hate me as well, Going to school every morning and coming home in the late afternoon was a ritual I always dreaded. I got stuck in the worst seat, never got snacks passed my way, and pretty much had to beg the other girls to let me join their games whenever we’d get stuck in traffic.

There were many others after Kathleen – the girls who made fun of me for spending my lunch hours reading in the library, the girls who decided that I had a crush on this other girl and humiliated me about it every chance they got, even a teacher who spent an entire homeroom period picking on me because I got bored one day and felt like passing a survey in class asking if anyone else hates math as much as I do. I’m pretty sure there was more but I must have buried those memories in my subconscious somewhere. I do know that my grades went down drastically, I took to daydreaming and paying little or no attention in class, and wrote my mom a lot of notes about the “terrable days” I would have in school.

One of the many notes Lauren would write me from school.

Things didn’t get any better for me when I attended high school. I moved to a different school and made the mistake of speaking to my new classmates in English on the first day. For that reason, or whatever other reason, they decided I was weird and I spent the next four years trying and failing to fit in.

I know that my experiences as a bully victim don’t sound particularly traumatizing, but you don’t have to get beat up in the playground to develop emotional scars that stay with you for the rest of your life – especially when the damage is psychological, which is what female bullying is about. Think about it. You’re a little kid, and all you really want is to make friends with the kids you go to school with everyday. Then you find out that not only do your schoolmates reject your attempts at friendship – they also make fun of the most trivial things about you, like the way you speak. You start to wonder if maybe there’s something seriously wrong with you because nobody can seem to like you for the way you are. You start hating yourself and constantly doubting your abilities, and you find it difficult to open up to people and form deep friendships with anyone.

The sad part is that guidance counselors, teachers, and even some parents don’t think much of bullying. They pass it off as play, or maybe an early life lesson: the world can be a terrible place filled with people who will treat you with undeserved cruelty. I do understand that kids have to grow up and learn that hard lesson someday, but I think anyone under the age of ten is too young to deal with that much reality. At that age, it’s important for children to learn to accept or at least respect people for exactly who they are instead of making fun of their differences. What kind of lesson will be passed on to them if their elders shrug off bullying as something totally normal?

Notes from the Mother

No parent wants to see their child get hurt. But according to a recent US study, 77% of students are being bullied mentally, verbally, or physically by their peers. Filipino children are equally exposed to bullying, and are even more at risk since Filipino parents often mistake bullying as a painful, yet necessary, rite of passage. Children who are either bullied or bullies themselves—are suffering from deep emotional scars. Aside from being withdrawn and depressed, victimized children are more likely to drop out of school, take up vices, and get into fights.

Thank goodness, Lauren didn’t drop out of school. The effect on her was mediocre academic performance. I could see the drastic drop starting third grade till I pulled her out of that school in Grade 6. Though intelligent, she was not motivated enough to score high in her tests until she attended college. Only then did Lauren blossom, away from the ravages of shallow high school classmates and their bullying antics.

During her elementary years, I was helpless against the bullying that victimized my sweet and gentle daughter in her School. I talked to the school’s guidance counselor and all she could tell me is that “Lauren had to learn to live with these bullies”. Moving schools was an option but where? Anti-bullying campaign in Philippine Schools was not yet in place in the mid-nineties and even today.

Good news to parents. Be aware . There is now a Department of Education policy to protect children from bullying. A Child Protection Committee (CPC) will be established in all private and public elementary and secondary schools. The committee will be composed of school officials, teachers, parents, students, and a community representative.

(If you want to guest post in my blog, drop me a note with the suggested topic)

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  • http://fritzified.com Fritz

    I was a normal kid, I suppose. The kind you’d forget was ever your classmate. Neither the ultimate loser nor bully. I had friends in elementary school who I still meet up with every once in a while. See, I used to hang out with 5 other guys who aren’t exactly the jock types. In fact, I’d say we’re the cooler geeks. We got our kicks from playing video games and I guess the magic worked its way through that. We hang out and became best buds. We started with a commonality that we subconsciously nurtured to somehow make us feel we belonged some place even if everybody else might think we’re freaks.

    Thinking back, I was lucky to have found my way without being bullied. Or maybe I WAS the bully, I don’t know. Nobody told me I was, though. Before reading this post, I always thought that, yes, it’s a right of passage to feel like the outcast but, much like in adulthood, we can’t have everybody love or even like us. Conversely yet equally important nobody has the right to make our lives miserable. We must also realize early on, however, that having a handful who GENUINELY likes us is a luxury. Sadly, school programs or some forced societal norm can’t shove this epiphany in the consciousness of everyone.

    I believe that it is important for every kid who thinks that they need to belong TO belong. It’s just a question of with whom and here in this aspect, I think the upper hand goes to the school admin when it comes to implementating a program that can guide instead of impose a norm on children. For it to work, these should be followed through in the homes by parents.

    Fritz’s last blog post..What sort of ?Little Loser? can a Rockstar be?

  • http://purpleportal.blogspot.com isel

    Growing up around boys made me realize the need to be tough. When I was in grade school, I never let anyone bully me. I wasn’t a bully, but I wasn’t someone the bullies would want to mess with either. I have a little sister who’s also being bullied in school, even by some of her friends in our community. It’s usually the, “pag hindi [insert absurd demand], di na kita bati” scenario which may seem harmless to some people, but I better. I’m still trying to convince my little sister to be more upfront and tough, and not to play with those kind of kids anymore. If that still doesn’t work, I’ll do the bullying and they’ll see who they’re up against. [insert evil laugh]

    isel’s last blog post..Sometimes, all it takes is a skirt

  • http://pinoybiscuits.blogspot.com/ DCRJ

    I remember being attacked by a school bully when I was in Grade 1. I was waiting for my lolo to fetch me at school, I just leaned on the school wall and all of a sudden this big chinese kid (too tall for his age or perhaps too late to enter school with his age) started throwing dirt at me…I just stared at him wondering perhaps why was he doing this, prior to everything I then recalled the time when this chinese kid defecated in his pants and he saw me smiling. I always consider the bully’s insecurities the real reason why they act that way, they wanted to feel good about themselves whenever they stoop up over some ‘weakling’ ,and roots back whatever reasons that have molded their personality…could be lack of loving parents, grew up with hostile environments, etc. Every school has one not only in the Philippines but also internationally, in short it’s an epidemic since the concept of school. My son got bullied lots of time in his pre-school and kindergarten years. I guess we have to live with it and teach our sons and daughters karate or tae kwan do or the sayonatchi way (sayo na chinelas ko, takbo!)

    DCRJ’s last blog post..Vote for the TUBBATAHA REEF of the PHILIPPINES on NEW7WONDERS.COM

  • http://aboutmyrecovery.com Noemi

    @fritz- that’s why any anti-bullying campaign will only work if the school, parents and kids support each other.

    Each child is different. Though I know my other daughter was bullied, she was able to bounce back. Most of the bullying victims I have met are quiet, gentle and sweet types who I believe the bully wishes to be, hence the bullying

    @isei- I even did role playing with Lauren on how to act tough. She just can’t do it.

    @I agree with you too that bullies have insecurities so they throw it at their victim. I know other smaller schools can minimize bullying. It’s a matter of putting an anti-bullying campaign in place.

  • http://www.sentimotions.blogspot.com marshi

    i had my own experience of being bullied, just like lauren, it’s not the physical type of bullying but being emotionally bulled by my grade school friends (as i thought them to be). as i look back to it i wonder why are there people like that, they look so happy when they bully others and it’s not fair. being a child it could be very traumatic thinking no one likes you. but then that phase of my life could be the reason why i grew up to be strong (or that’s how i see my self), i promised myself that no one could ever bully me again.

    marshi’s last blog post..a soulful relationship

  • Jim

    My kid is being bullied in his school. It’s an all boys-Catholic big school. I’m really looking forward to get him out of there. He cries when he comes home and there are mornings when he just doesn’t want to go to school anymore.

    As a father, I don’t want to accept bullying as a rite of passage. I believe it is a serious problem among our kids. And I think many schools in the Philippines cannot or DO NOT even address this problem. They just give sanctions when a student squeals. Then they don’t investigate, and not even protect the victim when the child calls for help.

    I hear a lot of good things about Reedley. They help both the bully victim and the bully him/herself. Also, I heard that they just don’t give sanctions right away. And they inform the parents ASAP when things seem fishy. I’m dropping by Reedley today and hope my son will get accepted.

    I’m tired and very hurt when I see my son defenseless and in pain. I firmly believe that bullying can be resolved not through physical means.

    Thanks Noemi and to the people who posted their insightful comment and stories.

  • Pingback: She never beat me up or anything - oh no, girls are way more subtle and cruel than that.:

  • http://www.alessaundrei.blogspot.com mhalou

    my daughter is in pre-school and i witnessed how her male classmate bullied her like pulling her arms or pushing her. i even made the terrible advice telling her to fight back if possible which i know is not right. i always believe that behind a bully is a sad story.

    mhalou’s last blog post..Work Dress Code

  • http://aboutmyrecovery.com Noemi

    @marshi- one learns to grow strong once the kid is older just like my Lauren

    @Jim- I know of parent who moved their son to Greenhills Christian Fellowship after that all-boy’s Catholic school couldn’t do a thing. The boy is so much happier in that school.

    Hope Reedley School helps you. Keep us updated.

    @mhalou- I also told my daughter to fight back . Anti-bullying doesn’t work when there is no cooperation among the teachers, school , parents and student.

  • http://inversetutuldok.blogspot.com Edong

    my kid was the smallest in her class and was the latest transferee, so you can imagine how hard it was for her during the first few weeks of school. i don’t know why but her classmates always seem to notice a big red target mark on her.
    affected as she was, she continued to study hard… of course with our strong support and encouragement on her. after the first grading period, she topped her class and gained the respect of her bullies. bully no more.

    Edong’s last blog post..Finding Pilongo

  • http://www.alleba.com/blog/ drew

    I was sort of bullied in school but I didn’t realize until a few years after college why. All my bullies turned out to be the ultimate losers in life. So yeah, each bully has a sad story behind him — or dare I say — a sad future ahead of him as well.

    drew’s last blog post..Semantic Search Engine: Powerset

  • http://www.lestercavestany.com Lester Cavestany

    Hi Lauren, sorry to hear that you had some rough times at school.
    As a teacher, I really feel sad for the kids who get picked on. Please know that it’s not that easy for us to control bullying especially because most of the time you’re with the kids is when you’re doing academics. Obviously, a lot of the bullying happens when teachers are not looking.
    And then there’s the culture of anti-sumbungero. Those who tell on bullies get picked on even more. Perhaps if we can break down this anti-sumbungero culture, (by making sure that there’s adult-sumbungero confidentiality) then we can start going after the bullies without compromising the safety of the witnesses and the victims.
    Nice to know that you have learned to deal with the emotional scars the bullies gave you.

    Lester Cavestany’s last blog post..March for Genuine Agrarian Reform, International Conscientious Objectors Day, Paul Samuelson Quote

  • http://bigbaddie.com Baddie

    I can only remember one instance of me getting bullied. In elementary, I wasn’t the huge fat kid. I was thin and lithe and sexy. There was this huge bully who teased me about being a crybaby after he saw me crying because of something I can’t remember. I told him I wasn’t a crybaby. He then poked my right eye. As soon as I rubbed it, he said “SEE?! HE’S CRYING! CRYBABY!” I hated him for years. Until I learned how to construct insults that can neutralize anyone regardless of size. I won.

    Baddie’s last blog post..Breaking News: Darth Vader Attacks Founders of Jedi Church

  • http://blog.ademagnaye.com Ade

    Back in grade school, like LOLen there, I also tried to keep out of everyone’s way. Apparently, bullies have a way to sniff out the people who just want to blend in the background. And obviously grade & high school was never fun for me.

    Ade’s last blog post..In This Entry Ade Talks About Marriage. And Stuff

  • http://aboutmyrecovery.com Noemi

    @Edong- good thing your kid knew how to fight back.

    @drew- now who has the last laugh! Sometimes I think the bullies are not even aware the hurt they do to their victims.

    @lester- thanks for your perspective. I know as a teacher you try to do your share to curb bulllying.

    @baddie- ugh how mean. These kids might have been hurt too. Hurt people hurt.

    @Ade- you are so right. They pick on the mild mannered and good kids. I bet they were jealous of you.

  • http://one-twentyone.com lady cess

    miriam huh?

    years ago, i attended someone’s graduation held in their school grounds. i was a guest, so i was outside the auditorium. and then this girl, who was wearing a filipiana outfit, so i figured a miriam student working as an usherette at the time, looked at me. no – she stared me maliciously. i decided to pay no mind, but it was hard not to notice, especially since whenever our eyes met, she would snicker and look at me from head to toe. so i challenged her to come out of the auditorium (since i couldn’t go inside) – but she would just look at me from head to toe, roll her eyes and snicker. and then, she connived with another usherette. she whispered to the other girls’ ear. now two girls were looking at me from head to toe and laughing at me and they couldn’t even tell me why. i must be at least 5 years older than them, but i guess they thought i was their age. i decided to just walk away bec at that moment i knew they were just picking on me.

    and then a couple of years later, a relative who was studying in miriam complained to us that she was being bullied by a fellow student. she was riding in the jeepney when this girl , for no reason at all, started picking a fight on my relative. kesyo daw masama tumingin sa kanya ang kamag-anak ko, who never even laid eyes on her. the relative tried to be reasonable but the bully seemed intent on fighting with her. when they reached miriam, my relative walked inside the school. the bully, who was joined by another studenty bully, followed her inside the school and taunted her. this happened for days, sinusundan talaga siya at inaantay sa abangan ng jeep. until finally, my relative came up to her when she was alone and challenged her to a fight. turns out takot naman pala pag walang kasama.

    and those aren’t the bully stories in that school that i know… another friend who studied in the same school was bullied by a professor.

    the stories i know are not something i’ve heard or experienced in other exclusive schools. the stories in that school seem like from a teen movie.

    hmm… maybe there’s something about the school.

    lady cess’s last blog post..When a Complaint Letter May Not Be Worth It

  • http://aboutmyrecovery.com Noemi

    @cess- that school is so overpopulated kasi. It was in 1998 that I pulled Lauren out of Miriam. I would think they should have reduced bullying by now.

  • http://one-twentyone.com lady cess

    don’t get me wrong, i have nothing against the school per se, but it’s just that this post made me remember these sad experiences. my family and friends who went there are proud graduates of miriam, but yes, there were these sad incidents, and then there was me who wasn’t even a miriam student. good thing we were all old enough to fight back when the bullying happened.

    lady cess’s last blog post..When a Complaint Letter May Not Be Worth It

  • http://imomonline.net chateau a.k.a. imom

    Hi Noemi,
    In my kids’ school, I don’t see any effort between it and the PTA to address the issue of bullying. I see and hear stories from co-parents, though. Is Reedley willing to share its program with other schools? Our school holds 1 PTA-sponsored seminar for parents every quarter. I’d like to suggest the anti-bullying topic.

    My little V is unlike her big sister, who is assertive. V is kind and meek, whenever her seatmate demands for her eraser or pencil, she gives it. There was a week when she lost an eraser almost everyday. Apparently her boy seat mate is collecting erasers! I wrote the teacher a letter and spoke to her. The teacher remedied by transferring the bully to another seat. V is entering Grade 1 in June. Bigger campus, more bullies. I am afraid for her.

    chateau a.k.a. imom’s last blog post..Blogging for love and for money

  • http://aboutmyrecovery.com Noemi

    @cess- that school should seriously initiate an anti-bullying campaign

    @chateau- maybe we can convince Reedley International School to share their success to other schools.

    You know, my other daughter Marielle was bullied too but she was stronger and more feisty than lauren. It seems the gentle kids are the target of these bullies. Just be on the lookout and report to the teacher and the admin.

  • Pingback: Digital Slices from My Life » Yes I Was Bullied Too

  • http://www.RadiantView.com Lorna Dietz

    Noems, kindly pass this on to L and M:

    I remember when you first told me about the bullying that was going on in your school. What I recall doing was recreating some role-playing scenarios that you actually experienced — and then coming up with alternative empowering responses. As you giggled and stumbled over the “play acting,” I hope, ladies, some of these role-playing exercises helped you. You were awfully young then. Let’s follow what your Auntie Myrna says to her sons: “Don’t you ever take s%@$ from anyone!” And I mean — anyone!

    Yes, it’s better for teachers to discourage bullying…


    Tita Lorna

  • http://spikeithard.com/ Marcvill

    Not too sure how bullying can really be remedied in schools. Good to know that some schools like Reedley are very proactive and at least are doing something about the issue.

    This post made me remember my Grade School days in an all-boys school not too far away from Miriam. Yes, I have my own share of being bullied but it’s funny that I now realize that there were also instances that I was the bully. I’m was always in the “middle” kind of student, not the siga type, and not one of the nerds either. Just in the middle.

    Marcvill’s last blog post..Gearhead’s ‘A series of unfortunate events at the Shakey’s V-League’ part 2

  • http://paralumanpod.wordpress.com Than-than

    I do experience being bullied even in secondary level…
    sounds funny that even I am big enough being bullied.
    Hope this School Year will be nice and never be bullied again.

    If you know Noemi…lot of children wants only a nice relationship between the bullying and being bullied.

  • http://jrocas.com.ph jhay

    Even though I’m a geek, I could count the number of times I was bullied at school from my elementary to my college days.

    Perhaps I never interested the bullies at school? Or was I one of the nerds who had a mischievous streak? :P

    The one thing I find interesting and funny about bullying in public schools is that when parents get involved; simple things easily into mayhem.

    Grown-ups, most of the times they are the ones who are the most immature. LOL

    jhay’s last blog post..Asus Eee PC 900 Press Launch

  • http://apples-pie.com/blog ApplesH

    Unfortunately I have the same experience as Lauren’s. I studied in an exclusive girl’s school where 99% of the kids were born filthy rich. These girls could not understand why anyone in the world, much less someone they went to school with, would have no money for baon and instead brought lunch to school… or how could anyone not afford to buy st. michael’s socks or sanrio stuff… or why a classmate of theirs cannot join their fieldtrip that costs only P500.

    And because I was an average kid in a filthy rich world, I was bullied. So my gradeschool and high school years were not my best years (although no one believes me). I think that is the reason why for college – I chose a school I knew no one will even consider. And that made my college life such heaven.

    My sister now teaches at my highschool and she tells me stories of bullying in her class similar to those I used to experience. But now the teachers (including her) are more active and aggressive about curbing this behavior.

    Bullying is very traumatic and scars many people for life. But those who survive it are stronger and better persons. Look at me (and Lauren) now… how far we have come.

    ApplesH’s last blog post..My diamond peel experience

  • http://purpleportal.blogspot.com isel

    I’m encouraging my little sister to do better in school. I remembered when I was in grade school, one of the reasons some of the (dumb) bullies never got in my way because I always had the best assignment and got high grades although I wasn’t one of the geeks. They never treated me bad because they needed “favors” from time to time. I jokingly told my little sister, “You should get the highest honors in your class so if someone tries to make you cry, you hold your head high and say something like, “Bakit may honor ka ba?!” or “I have no time for you, try again once you have the smarts to back your foul behavior”. Of course, it’s a bad thing to say, but my little sister had a laugh out of it.

    isel’s last blog post..Marikina Valley on a dot com

  • http://www.an-american-in-the-philippines.blogspot.com/ kikas_head

    This is not as relevant as I went to school in the US, but it too was a private, all-girl school. As much as I hate to say it, I was likely more on the bullying side. The class was essentially broken into two sides, the “cool” versus the “nerds”. I don’t even know how it was decided who was on each side….99% of us started the school at age five and went up through 8th grade (14 years of age).

    The bullying was actually, to a certain extent, tolerated by the teachers and administration and I can even remember a particular incident with our headmaster. A girl was visiting for the day (potential transfer student) and he asked what we thought. We made disparaging comments and instead of scolding us, he agreed with our comments that she, “wasn’t very pretty”. I shudder to think about this now.

    As karma would have it, I went to a public high school and was then on the flip side of bullying for freshman year. (I am white and was constantly having issues with other girls who felt I should, “hang out with my own kind”).

    I think no matter what, at some point we have all been on the receiving end of a bully or someone with bullying tactics. It scares me so much now, with the internet, to see how far some people can take it. What used to be a nasty note passed around the classroom, has turned into myspace/facebook groups created just to make fun of someone. It is encouraging to hear that parents and schools are taking a more active involvement in bullying.

    kikas_head’s last blog post..Still in San Francisco…..

  • http://docmnel.com mnel

    I can feel for Lauren because I used to be emotionally bullied too and yes, what she said about girls being more subtle but equally cruel is true!!!! I was shy, thin, petite, (cute hehe) and looked really fragile in school. Kinda looked like the usual bullying victim. It didn’t help that I got really high grades in school. I thought back then that the reason why I wasn’t accepted in THE social clique (the group of girls who were popular in school) was because I was doing good in school. At a tender age of 11, I decided it was probably time to slack off to be “accepted” like a normal student. Although I didn’t really slid off from being Top 1 to a nobody, my ranking got lower and lower through the years. I can say that I kinda blossomed during high school when THE clique members was dispersed to other sections. It was a total relief for my part although there were times when even when they were no longer my classmates, they still found a way how to bully me.

    Looking back, I can say that my childhood experiences molded me into who I am now – a stronger person nevertheless. =) What’s sad though is the fact that I don’t think all parents are aware of the bullying their kids might be experiencing in school. I envy Lauren because she was able to tell you about her “terrable days” in school. My mom was clueless and still is clueless of how I spent my elementary and high school days. I guess parents, especially mothers, must be more active in really knowing how their kids are doing in school and encourage their kids to speak up (especially those who are really shy like I used to be). Their kids might be being bullied already without them knowing it.

    mnel’s last blog post..Kwentong Commuter

  • http://mysoulfulthoughts.blogspot.com/ Rach (Heart of Rachel)

    I was a victim of a bully when I was in grade school. I cannot remember her face but she was my classmate. I remember how afraid I was of her. She ordered me to give her my sanrio things or else something bad would happen to my family. I was very young and innocent that I immediately took her words as the truth. I was terrified and there were nights when I couldn’t sleep fearing for my family’s safety. My mom noticed the frequency of the things I kept “losing” in school and she managed to make me divulge about my experiences. She immediately set up a meeting with my teacher. I don’t know what happened during that closed room meeting. I just remember how happy I was because I recovered all the items that the bully took from me. My parents reassured me that nothing bad will happen to our family because the bully has no power over us whatsoever.

    Rach (Heart of Rachel)’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday #22

  • Jim

    HI there!

    Thanks for all the posts guys. I truly appreciate it.

    I learned there’s a talk on Who’s To Blame for your Child’s Failure tomorrow that will be facilitated by Reedley’s Principal. They’re also discussing the school’s programs.

    I got to know about it by clicking on the Who’s to Blame button on Noemi’s site.:)

  • http://godiane.net/ Diana Jayne C. Gonzales

    Hello. I can certainly relate to Lauren.

    I went to the same grade school as well, two or three years her senior. I was in grade 6 then.

    I remembered the bitches telling me to use Block and White because I’m too negra for them. They also treated me like a dreaded disease. It seemed that no one wanted to be friends with me. I had no choice but to be friends with other people who I never thought I’ll be friends with. Good thing they turned out to be the nicest people I’ve ever encountered in my young life back then.

    I am happy that Lauren has a mother like you whom she can tell anything about. I was too afraid to tell it to my family that I was being bullied. I decided to keep quiet. I still remember up to now that every night I cried and prayed to God to please give me better classmates next year.

    Good thing that was only a year, and had better friends in grade 7. I tried transferring to another school when I was in grade school for high school all by myself to UPIS, but on the day of the exam, my mom never let me out of her sight. Hence, I was not able to take the exam, and had to endure that school until the end of high school.

    But then again, I learned a lot about that experience. Among other things, that experience made me realize that I don’t want any of my children to be a part of an all-girls or all-boys school EVER. It’s very traumatizing.

    Diana Jayne C. Gonzales’s last blog post..CakePHP: An Introduction

  • One Toughened Mommy

    I feel so strongly for this issue, as my son has been bullied by fellow students and even teachers since he was 7 years old. My heart would break each time he’d come home from school in tears, picked on for being small, for speaking in English, for being soft-spoken, for being dark-skinned, for not being cute enough. I had to consciously restrain myself from confronting his tormentors, because I seriously feared for all of us, knowing that the damage I could bring to their egos would only serve to make me their equals in iniquity.

    Now, after all these years, I believe that bullying is a grown-up problem: (1) because children should not be left unsupervised and (2)because they have the power to stop the bullying when it occurs in their presence. Children are cannot be expected to behave in a socially mature manner, so it is up to us grownups to enforce civility on them in a consistent, reasonable and non-violent manner.

    His first incident of being bullied was in Gr. 1, in a nontraditional Caloocan City school, by a resentful teacher whose faulty English and spelling (e.g, “Reading and Poenics” and “She don’t like that.”) was corrected by my son (who used to be so confident and outspoken then, as most kids fresh out of preschool are). She constantly broke my son’s self-esteem by humiliating him, by making fun of his mistakes in front of the class, and through subtle snide comments (“Don’t use the glue! I’ll put the glue for you because your work always looks dirty because you put too much glue.”). My sister happened to visit the school one time and saw his class during recess time: his classmates and teacher were eating in one corner as my son was eating alone in the middle of the room.

    Although the administrator acknowledged her teacher’s lapses, she was too defensive of her school’s reputation to admit that she had this teacher who was ignorant and impatient with children, and incompetent enough to be considered unfit to teach young children. (I read somewhere that the teacher had just passed the Elementary LET later that year.) The administrator confessed to being busy with her graduate studies at the time that she couldn’t find the time to look for a replacement in the middle of the school year.

    I transferred him to another non-traditional school in QC but was again bullied by classmates who happened to be special children. It became so bad that one night he confessed that he wanted to kill himself for being worthless and for being picked on. My heart was torn to shreds.

    For this, I blame the school admin for not assigning after-class yard / cafeteria supervisors to look after children waiting for their fetchers.

    The teachers and the school administration insisted that the problem lies with my son who they say has to learn to fight back, for only then can he be empowered. Although they do have a point (“there’s a bully lurking in any school you take him”), I believe that, for a school that had a system as intricate as mainstreaming, they were sorely lacking in personnel to supervise the children.

    I transferred him to 2 more schools after that: a school in Greenhills where we were weeded out as a family for not being rich and materialistic enough (heck, I felt bullied by the admin there: my son flunked in Filipino, and they were forcing me to enroll my son in their P10,000-summer classes in English, Math and Science or else he would be refused re-admission.); and finally, a Catholic school in QC where he remains to this day.

    Through the years, he has seen a developmental pediatrician, a child development specialist and has undergone play therapy at the Ateneo Wellness Center. All were very helpful in providing support for my son and for me as well.

    Right now, he’s 16 years old and in high school. He’s doing fine, although he’s still a loner, minds only his own business (read: unconcerned), still gets bullied (even more so now), and still refuses to fight back physically. But there’s a difference: now he perceives himself to be empowered because his self-confidence has grown. His teachers keep openly expressing how my son is the most helpful, the most kind-hearted in class. Along with the other kids in the Student Council, his teachers stand by him whenever he complains that other kids pick on him. That, and maybe because he developed into a tall, dark and handsome young man, complete with his modest share of female admirers (including his mother, hehe!)

    Looking back, I realize grown-ups take children’s fights more seriously as they mature. When he was small, he’d get into fights and teachers would belittle it as petty kiddie fights; now he’s as big as his dad and would still get picked on by other kids (who are not necessarily bigger or as big as he is), teachers would take it more seriously just because the warring parties are all physically bigger and more likely to inflict serious injury.

    Teachers, school bus personnel, school janitors and cafeteria workers should be oriented by school administration with the view that “kiddie fights” also have a potential for critical injury and should be taken seriously.

    My younger son studies in La Salle Greenhills where the PTA is a staunch advocate of “ZERO-TOLERANCE TO BULLYING”. They have posters all over the school reminding kids what specific acts constitute bullying and that the school will not tolerate bullies. Child development specialists are also invited to speak to parents about the issue. Although there still are incidents, I think LSGH is doing an excellent job for a school with that many students. So far, the bullying incidents there involving my younger son have been resolved immediately and satisfactorily, always ending with my son receiving basic courtesy, if not the friendship, of his former tormentors. It made me regret not taking my elder son to study there.

    Sorry for blogging on your blog. I just wanted to share in the hope that our story would be of help to someone out there who is going through what we have been through.

  • http://aboutmyrecovery.com Noemi

    @one toughened mommy – thanks for sharing your story. I am sure a lot of moms learned from it. I wish I were more assertive during those days.

  • http://schoolwatchphilippines.com School Watcher

    Hi Lauren!

    Bullying is indeed very much alive in all schools today. We need to empower our children how to address this problem, and not for them to just live with it. There are many ways and techniques we can teach our kids on how to handle bullies without resorting to violent means.

    I think most kids these days think that hitting a bully back is the RIGHT thing to do since they see it being done in a lot of movies and TV shows.

    I think it’s time to educate students, teachers, parents, and schools alike about this often neglected problem. Coming from a traditional school myself, school authorities only start addressing the problem when a kid tells or rather “squeals” that he/she is being bullied. Again, the vicious cycle continues: the bullies, and sometimes even the whole class, will ostracize and in some cases, beat up the squealer. As a result, no one will inform school authorities anymore since they are afraid to be branded or to get hurt.

    Who do you think can share and teach anti-bullying technology to our schools, students, and parents here in our country?

    Thanks and more success to your blog,

    School Watcher


    School Watcher’s last blog post..Failures in big, traditional schools: Dropouts?

  • http://burymeinthisdress.com/blog dementia

    Reading this made me sad because I remembered how much I was bullied when I was in grade school and high school…even kinder actually. I was quite ‘bibo’ before I started going to school but the constant bullying made me withdraw from people and it resulted to my being a loner when I stepped into high school. I still have a lot of baggage from those days. I hope there is a way to stop bullying but I honestly don’t think there is. Teachers couldn’t be with the kids all the time and parents can only do as much.

    • http://bannister.edu.ph/ Manila School

      Are you still ‘bibo’ now? Because I have the same expirience as you when it comes to withdrawing from other people because of bullying. I used to be fat and now I’m as fit as a model but the effect of bullying still stays with me like being a loner.

  • Nina

    HI! I can relate very well, my son just started prep level in a boys school just recently and during the 1st week we picked him up from school and while waiting for him some classmates of him are calling names like tabachoy, fat, itlog, taba… as mothers we don’t want our kids to get hurt in anyway, my son is just 5 yrs. old and he dosen’t even care if his classmates call him names he just laughed but for me it was not right, eventually after 2 weeks in class he started telling me that those kids were still calling him names.. I have to do something, so I talked to the teacher but just like you, they said that my son has to live by and survive on his own. Its horrific to think that these kids might be calling him names and it might get worse when you do nothing at all… Pls. give me an advise, what do I need to do? Should I call the bully kids parents and inform them? (but my husband refuses to ;()

    Thanks for sharing your story.. I do ope that Bullies would be stopped!
    More Power to your blog!

  • myreen

    Thanks for sharing your story . My daughter also get picked from a much taller(my daughter is only 3.5 ft tall while the bully is like 5’4″tall), ugly,bully busmate named Michelle Panganiban
    (oh! how happy I am to shout her name..such a disgrace to her family). this bully would always make her way to make others follow her and even convince her busmates to do bad things for my daughter. She would scare the girls so that they wouldn’t talk to my daughter and isolate her as if she dont exist at the bus. now, my daughter has hesitations on riding the bus and whenever she get to see that bully she’s scared like hell even if im with her. i talked with the operator if they can do something about this but even to them the girl always fought back. I taked to my daughter and told her that we will let the school guidance handle this girl. But if the girl still persist to her wrongdoings, I would not permit her to ruin my daughters life. I guess she deserves also to have her own dose. Im planning to confront that girl. would you think this is a good idea?

    • Margaux’s Mom

      Confronting with her parents is the best way.

      • myreen

        thanks margaux! i already transfered my daughter to another bus. she doesn’t worry anymore about that bully these days. I can also see that she gained more confidence now in dealing with her friends at school.

    • Margaux’s Mom

      Discuss the bully issue with her parents is a better approach. Or you might want to transfer your daughter to other school bus.

  • http://acidjazzcd.info Acid Jazz CD

    Thank you for posting this report. I am decidedly frustrated with struggling to research out pertinent and intelligent commentary on this issue. Everybody today goes to the very far extremes to possibly drive house their viewpoint that both: everyone else in the planet is wrong, or two that everyone but them does not really understand the situation. Many regards for your concise, pertinent insight.

  • Sergio Luis Alfonso

    Hi, I’m also a victim of bullying until now. I’m always at their center of attention because of homophobia. I tell you swear, I’m not gay nor attracted to the same sex. They want to make me come out or what. Another thing was they call me “gaya-gaya, poser or what” because I also listen or wear or do like they do either in music or the worst part, the church. In music, I listen to Paramore because I love the two song which has Christian meaning. They call me gaya-gaya for nothing as if they just want to piss me off or make me cry (I have depression). The worst they call me “gaya-gaya” in joining Victory Christian Fellowship. They said,” I don’t deserve to go their because I’m the son of the devil”. These really hurt me. I’m also beaten up unless I punch them to make them stop. I can’t even fight with them because I’m not that strong like them. I’m always center of their jokes like “wag nyong papansinin c sergio or manlilibre or what”. They always pick me up because I have a “gay” manner, have asperger’s syndrome and gaya-gaya. Alam nyo, if these people bullied me because of my Christian Faith, I would really say to my parents and to my pastor, I would really say I was persecuted. I don’t want those bullies to bully me again. But I should turn the other cheek. I forgive them but I don’t want to experience it. Jesus Christ is the only therapist who can help me and follow at me where I go. He’s not at the office, He’s walking by my side, in fact His service for me is for free! Jesus helped me to overcome my depression. If I didn’t recognized Jesus, I’ve committed suicide. I have intentions to commit suicide, but Jesus said to me,” Don’t lose hope, I know you can do it!”. I’m very thankful because He helped me to ease my pain. I’m very happy to be part of Him.

    • http://twitter.com/Ginowskie Ginowskie

      It is the challenge of being a Christian. Paul quoted that life being a Christian is not like you’re living in luxury or you’re not living an easy life. But in return, you are rest-assured of salvation. I just read awhile ago about an article by Bo Sanchez, you should think that telling your parents, teachers or counselor about your situation is the correct thing to do. Its the correct thing to do, tell people who are in the correct position about your problem and seek help.

  • http://www.johnalexanderblog.com zhen

    I live in America and my son at age 8 experienced that as well. We enrolled him in a local Philippine Sytle Self-Defense Class. The instructor was stationed in the Philippines for years and learned the art there. His confidence went through the roof and no one dared to mess with him again. That confidence and discipline stayed with him in his life and he is very successful today at age 28. So I say kill two birds with one stone and learn self-defense should be encouraged to every child.
    .-= zhen´s last blog ..Utilizing Facebook as a Lead Generator for Network Marketing =-.

  • kaye

    i started this morning just right with my daughters preparing to get off for school, while helping my youngest she was just too hesitant narrating me another news from that same girls who tried to bully her for the past 3 months from the day school started, grabbed her hello kitty watch and took turns in saying thing against her. oh my poor baby, should she be taught to fight back???… but that is not i was also brought out by my parents… could someone show me the Philippine Bill/Resolutions for BULLYING, i just heard it once from the news few week ago so as the parents too may be required by law to attend with the child several counselling. I dont intend to create chaos but if my child is having a hard time with her classmates or should your child happens to be one like mine, i know you know the feeling…

  • peach

    i had a small talk with my son with his usual problem. he is “inis” with a boy in the school bus. the boy sits besides him even if there are a lot of available seats. this boy doesnt hurt him but irritates him a lot. i told him don’t mind the boy but tell me if he is being hurt. he told me the boy who is in Grade 3 wanted to be friends with him but he does not want to because he wants to be friends only with his classmates in Grade 1.
    then another problem his classmate (former friend) is bullying him. he made him drink too much water that my son threw up due to stomach ache. well i told his mother about what his son did to my son. to her dismay, his son told her that he did that. Of late, her son threatens my son that he would hit him if he does not follow him.
    well a talk between me and my son…i told him not to believe what his classmate told him because i will never allow it. he is still excited to go to class so i know he is okay. comes home with lots of stories and telling them with laughing eyes.

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  • http://www.skysenshi.com skysenshi

    I was bullied a lot when I was a kid but I always fought back. I often won, which was why the principal always punished me. I guess the reason why we never tell our parents that we were being bullied was that we were afraid of being branded a tattle-tale.

    You have a wonderful relationship with your daughter if she wrote you notes like that. I think most parents should tell their kids from the very beginning to always tell them what’s going on. We’re doing this for our youngest brother, who’s 9 years old, now.

    (BTW, I’m a frequent shopper at Lauren’s Ukay Manila. Hehe. And I only found out recently that you’re her mom. Despite the same last name, I didn’t immediately make the connection. Gosh.)

  • http://twitter.com/reichmakayan Rachel Makayan

    I was also bullied a lot during my younger days. Words are not enough to express my relief when I graduated from high school. College was a breath of fresh air. It made me feel free, free from the people who made me feel like trash. Female bullying plays on the victims emotions, and it last longer. Until now I carry the emotional scars. It was only now that I started to fight back, repairing and building up my self-esteem while I was in college. My bullies tried me again on Facebook.
    Bullying should be taken seriously, and it should be stopped.

  • http://twitter.com/reichmakayan Rachel Makayan

    I was also bullied a lot during my younger days. Words are not enough to express my relief when I graduated from high school. College was a breath of fresh air. It made me feel free, free from the people who made me feel like trash. Female bullying plays on the victims emotions, and it last longer. Until now I carry the emotional scars. It was only now that I started to fight back, repairing and building up my self-esteem while I was in college. My bullies tried me again on Facebook.
    Bullying should be taken seriously, and it should be stopped.

  • http://twitter.com/reichmakayan Rachel Makayan

    I was also bullied a lot during my younger days. Words are not enough to express my relief when I graduated from high school. College was a breath of fresh air. It made me feel free, free from the people who made me feel like trash. Female bullying plays on the victims emotions, and it last longer. Until now I carry the emotional scars. It was only now that I started to fight back, repairing and building up my self-esteem while I was in college. My bullies tried me again on Facebook.
    Bullying should be taken seriously, and it should be stopped.

  • cascepiergo

    When I was in grade 4, I used to be bullied a lot by the boys in my class. They used to take my things, hide them, and sometimes, they would even break my rulers, pencils and stuff. And when I moved to the Philippines to do grade 6 and my secondary education, I continued to be bullied.

    Bullying is a serious problem. It makes the victim feel sad and unworthy. It makes the victim believe that he/she is a very bad person. I’m now in my twenties, but I still feel sad and angry whenever I remember those times when I was bullied. This article is very true. Bullying leaves emotional scars, scars that will remain with the victim for all his life.

    But anyways, I’ve come to realize that at the end of the day, the people who’ve hurt us arent the ones who matter. Rather, the people who matter the most are those who’ve always stayed with us, loved us, protected us, and made us feel happy. :)

  • http://superjuniorforthewin.blogspot.com/ sjforthewin

    I was also bullied in the past, yet I also remember fighting back, at the most, twice. The first happened in sixth grade, after this really tall girl bullied me to no end, I ended up cursing her – then crying after. In HS, I got some bullying too, but I think after the sixth grade incident, I knew that I could just ignore them and move on. I was even left all by myself by my classmates in senior year because they didn’t like how I acted or was too friendly (yes, people had issues, had walls, had cliques) and was confronted for that. So I kept my distance and showed everyone that I could do without them. Years after, one of them said to me that I was “an iconoclast, a good kind”, and then another told me that she realized their reasons were funny and pathetic. Thankfully, my college was a great venue as it allowed me to act the way I wanted to. There was less labeling.

    Though the memories still sting sometimes, my understanding of bullies as equally tortured/insecure/unhappy people (w/c developed in college and after), AND understanding them as such, made healing possible. In the long run, that notion that “hey no one’s perfect”, made me stronger and who I am today. :)

  • http://twitter.com/pianonomocha Emily San Pedro

    hello po. nabasa ko po yung post nyo about your daughter. I was also bullied since elementary throughout highschool. yung una nangyari when I was in grade 1. alam ko yung reason, I’m smaller and younger than my classmates. Coed yung school ko nun kaya both guys and girls yung nambubully sakin. dahil dun all throughout elementary and highschool naging loner ako(though may mga naging friends ako, yun nga lang once in a lifetime). Noon nagsusumbong ako sa mom ko(nasa province yung dad ko because of work), wala rin syang nagawa nung time na yun kasi may work sya nun at night kaya lumaban akong mag-isa. walang year sa life ko nun na walang nambubully. yung last year ko nung highschool ang narinig kong reason niya ay asar talo daw ako.

    Funny how easy to those who bully na sabihin ang reason nila na napakababaw at hindi nila naaiintindihan yung mga nararamdaman ng mga nabibiktima. sana masolusyunan na ang ganitong problema para wala nang mabiktima pang iba.

    sabi nga ng isang commentator dito “College was a breath of fresh air”. although nag-struggle ako sa simula dahil sa past ko pero I tried my best to change it, and I can say it was one of my wonderful experiences I’ve ever had

  • Layne Canoy

    I’m also having the same problem with my first grade daughter who have been complaining about her classmates that bullied her. She even got home one day with her uniform colored with crayons at the back. One day with her school bag teared and she even complained that 3 boys drag her outside the classroom and pushed her down and her crayons were gone not just once but every time she got new sets of crayons almost half of it were gone the day she brought it with her in school. Since I am several miles away from her and had only my mom to talk to her teacher but we only got “okay but I cannot control these kids, it is hard to discipline children nowadays because we have DSWD that would sue us” answer from her teacher. Shouldn’t they do something about this bullying? Isn’t there a law that would regulate this? She is only 6 and yet she had to experience all these. I did came to her class one day and talk the child whom her other classmates pointed as one of those bullies. I told him that if he continues to do it I would have him called at the principal office since their teacher seems not to mind the bullying in her classroom. A week after it the school held a general meeting with the PTA and tackles this bully issue. It is weird because the principal herself says that parents cannot directly complain to her office until we got solid evidence that our child is being bullied. What evidence should we parents have to wait for? Should we wait for our kids to get home with bruises and blackeyes or clothes teared just to have the evidence they are looking for? Why do school teachers and personnel will always point to DSWD as the reasons of their failure to regulate school bullies? Been checking on DSWD’s site for child protection in school and school’s personnel role to protect children in any form of abuse within the school premises but found none. I hated this schools policies, they even threatened the parents that they will report us to the DSWD if we will complain again. WOW what a friendly learning place this school is. Oh by the way this is a public school i’m talking and i’m pulling my kid out of this stupid place next school year. DSWD if ever you got to this site one day please release a copy on detailed child protection policies to the public.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gerardo-Anire-Jr/100000909581434 Gerardo Anire Jr.

    yung anak ko biktima din ng bullying kahapon ko lng nalaman almost 2 months na pala ginagawa sa kanya tuwing papasok kinukuha nung nag bubully yung perang baon ng anak tapos napipilitan ng mangupit ng pera yung anak ko para lng may maibigay sa kanila may grupo kasi tong mga nagbubully sa anak ko pag di nakapag bigay sa kanila ng pera yung anak ko sinusontok daw sya, kaya pala parang nalipasan ng gutom yung anako tapos parang na trauma ayaw ng mag aral gumagawa n lng maraming dahilan para di makapasok minsan nga nagsakit sakitan pa para lng maka absent nid help eto po number ko 09193598211 sa monday kakauaspin ko yung principal ng school nila sana naman gumawa sila ng action tungkol dito

  • http://twitter.com/sashadalabajan Sasha Dalabajan

    Hi (: I’m a fourth year high school student from a certain school in Palawan. First of all, I would like to extend my gratitude to the writer of this blog. This was such a big help in our related literature in my thesis about the effects of bullying.

    As a researcher, I agree that bullying is still an unexplored area of the school systems in the Philippines, where the victims often languish in ignominy. And I also am aware that it is something that should not be taken lightly.

    As I was reading the blog entry and few of the comments, I could only thank God for not having experienced such harsh form of bullying, or so, I was taught to deal with it properly. And neither of my friends have experienced such severe form of bullying.

    In the school where I study in, we have a very efficient, effective, and well-developed Guidance Office that accommodates every student’s concerns. I am praying for the same Guidance Office to all the schools in the Philippines.

  • http://www.facebook.com/juanemmanuelnicomedes Emmanuel Magbanua

    My son got bullied at the International Philippine School in Jeddah yesterday and last week. He got hematoma in the left arm. The mother of the bully evades us. The bully got his back from his ill considerate mother.

  • mom michelle

    When i read this post. It describes exactly what we been through. As a mom i felt bad that i couldn’t stop this. My son is quiet and shy. love to read books too and kept to himself most of the time. My son was bullied in his Grade 7 class. He was teased and name called. He was always cornered. They threw his shoes out of the window. They broke his glasses. No one dares to befriend him because some are afraid that they will be bullied too. He’s very good in math, perfect in quizzes and exams in elementary but got low scores in high school. I talked to the guidance councilor, Principal & teacher, at the first incident they talk to the parents but the bully never stop it lessen but too late because some of his classmate (the bully’s barkada) was starting to bully him too. I would often call the teacher, whenever i heard something happened (usually from other classmates) My son didn’t tell me what’s going on, What the teacher told me made me feel like it was our fault because he thinks my son is just sensitive and couldn’t take a friendly joke, and it’s just normal kids playing. This really made me really mad and sad that the people whose supposed to protect him at school thinks that it is all my son’s fault all along. He said that maybe because my son is “pikon” and my son speaks in English most of the time. The teacher never informed the other bullies parents about their kids and instead call me to school to tell me to help my son get along with other children. We decided to transfer him to new school this year as i think this supposed to be good high school that would provide good foundation instead gave my son a painful, humiliating experiences the entire school year.

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