Policy and Guidelines on Protecting Children in School from Abuse, Violence, Exploitation, Discrimination, Bullying and Other Forms of Abuse
I. GENERAL PROVISIONS
Section 1. Short Title
This Department Order shall be known as the "DepEd Child Protection Policy."
Section 2. - Statement of Policy
Pursuant to the 1987 Constitution, the State shall defend the right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation and other conditions prejudicial to their development (Article XV, Section 3 ).
The Constitution further provides that all educational institutions shall inculcate patriotism and nationalism, foster love of humanity, respect for human rights, appreciation of the role of national heroes in the historical development of the country, teach the rights and duties of citizenship, strengthen ethical and spiritual values, develop moral character and personal discipline, encourage critical and creative thinking, broaden scientific and technological knowledge, and promote vocational efficiency. (Article XIV, Section 3 ).
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) aims to protect children from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury and abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment and exploitation, including sexual abuse. The same Convention establishes the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively, and on the basis of equal opportunity, it obliges the government to take measures to encourage regular attendance in school and reduce drop-out rates. Thus, it is mandated that all appropriate measures be undertaken to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child's human dignity, and in conformity with the CRC.
Towards this end, the Department of Education (DepEd), in collaboration with its partners and stakeholders, shall ensure that all schools are conducive to the education of children. The best interest of the child shall be the paramount consideration in all decisions and actions involving children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities, and legislative bodies, consistent with the principle of First Call for Children, as enunciated in the CRC. Teachers and learning facilitators especially in learning centers are their substitute parents, and are expected to discharge their functions and duties with this in mind. In this connection, the Family Code empowers the school, its administrators and teachers, or the individual, entity or institution engaged in child care to exercise the special parental authority and responsibility over the child, while under their supervision, instruction or custody.
The Department recognizes that cases of abuse may arise as a result of the difficult situations faced by teachers and other officials within and outside school.
DepEd has adopted the policy to provide special protection to children who are gravely threatened or endangered by circumstances which affect their normal development and over which they have no control, and to assist the concerned agencies in their rehabilitation.
Furthermore, this Department aims to ensure such special protection from all forms of abuse and exploitation and care as is necessary for the child's well-being, taking into account the primary rights and duties of parents, legal guardians, or other individuals who are legally responsible and exercise custody over the child. DepEd recognizes the participatory rights of the child in the formulation and implementation of policies, and in all proceedings affecting them, whether they be victims or aggressors, either directly, or through a representative.
Accordingly, this Department reiterates a zero tolerance policy for any act of child abuse, exploitation, violence, discrimination, bullying and other forms of abuse, and hereby promulgates this Department Order.
Section 3. - Definition of Terms
A. "Child" - refers to any person below eighteen (18) years of age or those over but are unable to fully take care of themselves or protect themselves from abuse, neglect, cruelty exploitation or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition; (RA 7610). For purposes of this Department Order, the term also includes pupils or students who may be eighteen (18) years of age or older but are in school.
B. "Children in School" - refers to bona fide pupils, students or learners who are enrolled in the basic education system, whether regular, irregular, transferee or repeater, including those who have been temporarily out of school, who are in the school or learning centers premises or participating in school-sanctioned activities.
C. "Pupil, Student or Learner" - means a child who regularly attends classes in any level of the basic education system, under the supervision and tutelage of a teacher or facilitator.
D. "School Personnel" - means the persons, singly or collectively, working in a public or private school. They are classified as follows:
- "School Head" refers to the chief executive officer or administrator of a public or private school or learning center.
- "Other School Officials" include other school officers, including teachers, who are occupying supervisory positions or positions of responsibility, and are involved in policy formulation or implementation in a school.
- "Academic Personnel" includes all school personnel who are formally engaged in actual teaching service or in research assignments, either on a full-time or a part-time basis, as well as those who possess certain prescribed academic functions directly supportive of teaching, such as registrars, librarians, guidance counselors, researchers, and other similar persons. They may include school officials who are responsible for academic matters, and other school officials.
- "Other Personnel" includes all other non-academic personnel in the school, whatever may be the nature of their appointment and status of employment.
E. "Child Protection" - refers to programs, services, procedures and structures that are intended to prevent and respond to abuse, neglect, exploitation, discrimination and violence.
F. "Parents" - refers to biological parents, step-parents, adoptive parents and the common-law spouse or partner of the parent;
G. "Guardians or Custodians" - refers to legal guardians, foster parents, and other persons, including relatives or even non-relatives, who have physical custody of the child.
H. "School Visitor or Guest" - refers to any person who visits the school and has any official business with the school, and any person who does not have any official business but is found within the premises of the school. This may include those who are within the school premises for certain reasons, e.g. student teachers, catechists, service providers, suppliers, bidders, parents and guardians of other children.
I. "Child Abuse"- refers to the maltreatment of a child, whether habitual or not, which includes any of the following:
- psychological or physical abuse, neglect, cruelty, sexual abuse and emotional maltreatment;
- any act by deeds or words which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being;
- unreasonable deprivation of the child's basic needs for survival, such as food and shelter; or
- failure to immediately give medical treatment to an injured child resulting in serious impairment of his or her growth and development or in the child's permanent incapacity or death (Sec. 3 [b], RA 7610).
J. "Discrimination against children" - refers to an act of exclusion, distinction, restriction or preference which is based on any ground such as age, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, being infected or affected by Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), being pregnant, being a child in conflict with the law, being a child with disability or other status or condition, and which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by all persons, on an equal footing, of all rights and freedoms.
K. "Child exploitation" - refers to the use of children for someone else's advantage, gratification or profit often resulting in an unjust, cruel and harmful treatment of the child. These activities disrupt the child's normal physical or mental health, education, moral or social emotional development. It covers situations of manipulation, misuse, abuse, victimization, oppression or ill-treatment.
There are two (2) main forms of child exploitation that are recognized:
- Sexual exploitation - refers to the abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes. It includes, but it is not limited to forcing a child to participate in prostitution or the production of pornographic materials, as a result of being subjected to a threat, deception, coercion, abduction, force, abuse of authority, debt bondage, fraud or through abuse of a victim's vulnerability.
- Economic exploitation - refers to the use of the child in work or other activities for the benefit of others. Economic exploitation involves a certain gain or profit through the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. This includes, but is not limited to, illegal child labor, as defined in RA 9231.
L. "Violence against children committed in schools" - refers to a single act or a series of acts committed by school administrators, academic and non-academic personnel against a child, which result in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, or other abuses including threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty. It includes, but is not limited to, the following acts:
- Physical violence refers to acts that inflict bodily or physical harm. It includes assigning children to perform tasks which are hazardous to their physical well-being.
- Sexual violence refers to acts that are sexual in nature. It includes, but is not limited to:
- rape, sexual harassment, acts of lasciviousness, making demeaning and sexually suggestive remarks, physically attacking the sexual parts of the victim's body;
- forcing the child to watch obscene publications and indecent shows or forcing the child to do indecent sexual acts and/or to engage or be involved in, the creation or distribution of such films, indecent publication or material; and
- acts causing or attempting to cause the child to engage in any sexual activity by force, threat of force, physical or other harm or threat of physical or other harm or coercion, or through inducements, gifts or favors.
- Psychological violence refers to acts or omissions causing or likely to cause mental or emotional suffering of the child, such as but not limited to intimidation, harassment, stalking, damage to property, public ridicule or humiliation, deduction or threat of deduction from grade or merit as a form of punishment, and repeated verbal abuse.
- Other acts of violence of a physical, sexual or psychological nature that are prejudicial to the best interest of the child.
M. "Bullying or Peer Abuse" - refers to willful aggressive behavior that is directed, towards a particular victim who may be out-numbered, younger, weak, with disability, less confident, or otherwise vulnerable. More particularly:
- Bullying - is committed when a student commits an act or a series of acts directed towards another student, or a series of single acts directed towards several students in a school setting or a place of learning, which results in physical and mental abuse, harassment, intimidation, or humiliation. Such acts may consist of any one or more of the following:
- Threats to inflict a wrong upon the person, honor or property of the person or on his or her family;
- Stalking or constantly following or pursuing a person in his or her daily activities, with unwanted and obsessive attention;
- Taking of property;
- Public humiliation, or public and malicious imputation of a crime or of a vice or defect, whether real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause dishonor, discredit or expose a person to contempt;
- Deliberate destruction or defacement of, or damage to the child's property;
- Physical violence committed upon a student, which may or may not result to harm or injury, with or without the aid of a weapon. Such violence may be in the form of mauling, hitting, punching, kicking, throwing things at the student, pinching, spanking, or other similar acts;
- Demanding or requiring sexual or monetary favors, or exacting money or property, from a pupil or student; and
- Restraining the liberty and freedom of a pupil or student.
- Cyber-bullying - is any conduct defined in the preceding paragraph, as resulting in harassment, intimidation, or humiliation, through electronic means or other technology, such as, but not limited to texting, email, instant messaging, chatting, internet, social networking websites or other platforms or formats.
N. "Other acts of abuse by a pupil, student or learner"- refers to other serious acts of abuse committed by a pupil, student or learner upon another pupil, student or learner of the same school, not falling under the definition of `bullying' in the preceding provisions, including but not limited to acts of a physical, sexual or psychological nature.
O. "Corporal Punishment" - refers to a kind of punishment or penalty imposed for an alleged or actual offense, which is carried out or inflicted, for the purpose of discipline, training or control, by a teacher, school administrator, an adult, or any other child who has been given or has assumed authority or responsibility for punishment or discipline. It includes physical, humiliating or degrading punishment, including, but not limited to the following:
- Blows such as, but not limited to, beating, kicking, hitting, slapping, or lashing, of any part of a child's body, with or without the use of an instrument such as, but not limited to a cane, broom, stick, whip or belt;
- Striking of a child's face or head, such being declared as a "no contact zone";
- Pulling hair, shaking, twisting joints, cutting or piercing skin, dragging, pushing or throwing of a child;
- Forcing a child to perform physically painful or damaging acts such as, but not limited to, holding a weight or weights for an extended period and kneeling on stones, salt, pebbles or other objects;
- Deprivation of a child's physical needs as a form of punishment;
- Deliberate exposure to fire, ice, water, smoke, sunlight, rain, pepper, alcohol, or forcing the child to swallow substances, dangerous chemicals, and other materials that can cause discomfort or threaten the child's health, safety and sense of security such as, but not limited to bleach or insecticides, excrement or urine;
- Tying up a child;
- Confinement, imprisonment or depriving the liberty of a child;
- Verbal abuse or assaults, including intimidation or threat of bodily harm, swearing or cursing, ridiculing or denigrating the child;
- Forcing a child to wear a sign, to undress or disrobe, or to put on anything that will make a child look or feel foolish, which belittles or humiliates the child in front of others;
- Permanent confiscation of personal property of pupils, students or learners, except when such pieces of property pose a danger to the child or to others; and
- Other analogous acts.
P. "Positive and Non-Violent Discipline of Children" -is a way of thinking and a holistic, constructive and pro-active approach to teaching that helps children develop appropriate thinking and behavior in the short and long-term and fosters self-discipline. It is based on the fundamental principle that children are full human beings with basic human rights. Positive discipline begins with setting the long-term goals or impacts that teachers want to have on their students' adult lives, and using everyday situations and challenges as opportunities to teach life-long skills and values to students.
II. DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Section 4. Central Office
The DepEd Central Office shall have the following duties and responsibilities:
A. Develop a policy and guidelines for the prevention of violence against children in schools and make these available to all schools;
B. Conduct a nationwide information dissemination and campaign on violence prevention programs for children and research-based best practices for teachers, which are intended to promote new techniques, methodologies and research related to teaching, classroom management, child development, positive and non-violent discipline;
C. Devise programs, campaigns and activities through the Offices of the Undersecretary for Programs and Projects and Regional Operations, to raise consciousness, mobilize and educate the students, parents, teachers, community, local government units and other stakeholders in addressing child abuse, exploitation, violence, discrimination and bullying; and
D. Formulate a system of standard reporting, prescribe standards and procedures for monitoring and evaluation, and maintain the central repository of Regional Reports (Annex "A") on incidents and cases of child abuse, exploitation, violence, discrimination, bullying and other acts of abuse, through the Office of the Undersecretary for Legal and Legislative Affairs.
You can download the full copy of the DepEd Child Protection Policy by clicking the link below: