Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Violence Preventing Education of Many Filipino Children

It is not only poverty that prevents Filipino children from going to school but also bullying, humiliation, physical maltreatment and sexual harassment perpetrated not only by fellow students but also by teachers. And violence against children proves to be prevalent with at least five out of 10 children in Grades 1 to 3, seven of 10 in Grades 4 to 6 and six of 10 in high school experiencing some kind of violence in school.

This was revealed by Plan Philippines, part of an international non-government organization (NGO) concentrating on the welfare and development of children, in the regional launch of its Learn Without Violence campaign on Feb. 20 at Hotel Alejandro in Tacloban City, the regional capital of Eastern Visayas. The launch was attended by academics, students, social workers, journalists, local government officials and representatives from the Department of Social Welfare (DSWD) and Department of Education (DepEd).

Plan, which started operating in the Philippines in 1961, commissioned the Philippine School of Social Work (PSSW) of the Philippine Women’s University in 2005 to study violence against children in public schools, specifically in Masbate, Northern Samar and the Camotes Islands in Cebu, where Plan Philippines has programs. The study involved 2,442 children from 58 public schools, and adult stakeholders such as parents and other community representatives, school personnel and guidance counselors.

In Western Samar in particular, of 127 youths in various Western Samar towns 74 percent claimed they experienced some form of abuse, according to the Plan’s short documentary, Abuso.Among those who claimed they were abuse, 53 percent said they were pinched in the ear or cursed; and 32 percent were pinched. The remaining 15 percent experienced other forms of abuse including the physical and sexual kinds.

According to the study, titled “Towards a Child-Friendly School Environment: A Baseline Study on Violence Against Children in Public School,” verbal abuse―including being ridiculed and teased, being shouted at and being cursed or spoken to with harsh words―is the most prevalent form experienced by children in all school levels.

Fellow students like classmates and peers more than the adults are often the perpetrators in schools with male children more likely to experience physical violence than their female counterparts, the study says.

Furthermore, it also reveals that children accept physical and verbal forms of violence as part of the discipline and seen as appropriate when inflicted within parameters, but “generally prefer a more positive form of discipline such as being talked to and corrected or guided/counseled in response to offenses or violations made in school.”

The study also shows that experiences of violence usually result in low self-esteem, fear, anger and helplessness among children.

It cites some factors contributing to incidences of violence in schools, and these are “family background and personal circumstances; influence of peers and media; lack of awareness about children’s rights; fear; inability of authority figures to respond to cases; abuse of power relations; inadequate capacity to cope with student population and performance demands; and insufficient policies and mechanisms.”

Also according to the study the children and adult “recommend awareness raising and capacity building activities for parents, teachers and children, clear policies and collaborative measures that involve all stakeholders including community leaders as measures to address violence against children in schools.”

Rodel Bontoyan, Plan Philippines ’ area manager in Eastern Visayas , said that their organization prioritizes in reducing and eventually eradicating corporal punishment, bullying and sexual harassment. They are working with communities in increasing their awareness and changing their attitudes. They are also working with the government in helping draft laws concerning violence against children. And they are also working with the media to increase awareness. In fact, Plan Philippines have recruited famous personalities like Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski to act as ambassadors and have co-produced a series of short videos and documentaries about the issues concerning Filipino children.

One documentary shows a case in which a child was hit on the face with a shoe by his teacher. An empowering video shows a gay child standing up against those taunting him, and another one suggests an alternative punishment for misconduct.

We envision for all school-age children to enjoy the right to education without fear, threats or violence,” Bontoyan said.


blogging mistress on a rest said...

Hi Roel,

This comment has nothing to do with your recent post (I'm sorry!), but with the article you made about spelunking in Mabinay. My family is interested in experiencing the caves ourselves but we want to be sure that they are easy to access since there are a lot of the older and heavy ones in the family who are very eager to join.

First, I want to thank you for the very interesting article you made on your Mabinay experience. But there are a few things that I want to confirm.

How steep is the ravine that you had to climb down in to get to the entrance of the Panligawan cave? Is it the same as in Pandalian?
What about the Crystal Cave? Which do you think is the easiest to access, especially for oldies (40s, 50s)? Do we have to wear rubber shoes or is it ok with sleepers only? Lastly, do we have to put on safety gears?

We are still finalizing this trip and your reply would really help out a lot in our scheduling of activities. Hope to hear from you soon, Roel. Thanks!

I will wait for your reply here or if it won't be too much to ask, please email me at mariavitarodriguez@gmail.com

All the best!

Gridcrosser said...

Dear Mistress,

Thank you very much for reading and your appreciation. It means a lot.

Mabinay, shall we say, is an off-the-beaten-track kind of destination, and thus the usual creature comforts for tourist are wanting. A dose of adventurous spirit and a fascination for the rough and wild are needed to want to explore Mabinay, whose primary attaction is the caves. Many of them. Since the town if off-the-beaten-track, the roads to these caves are unpaved. Most of the times there are no raods at all. Most of the times, one has to hike, sometimes through thickets and forests to get to the caves.

So there may be some exertion getting to the caves. Exploring the caves is another. But I think senior citizens can manage the hike, but slowly and patiently. The terrain can be tricky, full of rocks and vines.

The Pandalian and the Panligawan caves are two separate cave mouths, which nearby each other. I suspect they are connected. These caves are the easiest to get to. One must negotiate the boulders and rocks that littered the mouth to get into the caves. Persons int heir 40s and 50s can manage it but slowly and with help of an abled bodied guide.

Now the Crystal Cave is harder to get to. The ravine is steep. There are much vegetation, which can obscure your steps and at the same time which you can hold on too while climbing down. One has to be physically fit. But it is one of the most beautiful caves here. While in Mabinay, you can go there to see if you will be able to climb down. But don't push it.

Safety gears are needed in exploring any cave, especially in Mabinay. Basic is flashlight and helmet. You can wear slippers but hiking boots are recommended. Since you're going to be with companions in their 40s and 50s, yes, safety gears are recommended.

Plus, it would be helpful to get a guide. They know the place. They know what part is tricky and what part one has to tread on.

I don't where you're coming from but I recommend and easier cave to explore like the Cal-lao Caves in Penablanca, Cagayan, near Tuguegarao. The path is already paved and the cave is spectacular. There are additional attractions like the river and the coming out of the bats.

Anyway, should you go to Mabinay, I hope you get to enjoy the place. Have fun.

I hope I answered your questions properly. Don't hesitate if there are more.

Thanks much.