EDITORIAL | Protecting children

Bicol Central Academy Administrator James Jaucian’s apology for having torched the bags of students comes at an opportune time, as DepEd holds the National Child Protection Summit this week.

This development is a timely reminder of the vulnerabilities of children against issues such as abuse, exploitation, violence, discrimination and bullying.

As DepEd Bicol Regional Director Gilbert Sadsad points out, the Department’s utmost priority is “to provide a safe, nurturing and free-from-fear learning environment to students, as well as to teachers and other personnel at the school level.”

Therefore, DepEd adopts a policy of zero tolerance against such abuse, in the hope that no child, teacher, or member of the personnel, has to endure such unfortunate practices.

RD Sadsad’s immediate action on the Libmanan incident is proof of this zero tolerance policy. This is proof that in the Bicol region, DepEd is serious not only about complying with the government directive, but also in doing what is just and proper.

In this case, what was just and proper necessarily involved the recommendation of reimbursement for the damaged personal properties, as well as stress debriefing for the students who might have been traumatized by the incident.

Meantime, what has happened is also proof that students today are aware of their rights, and in their words, “will not back down,” even if it means going to the proper authorities to report what they believe is a violation on the part of the school administrator.

Still, a lot needs to be done. What we need is to prevent these incidents of abuse from happening in the first place, and that warrants a lot of effort not only from the DepEd, but also from the private sector and local leaders. It is high time we educate ourselves on how to treat children, who at their impressionable age, will likely pattern their behavior on how we behave as adults.