Tell it to SunStar: Stopping bullying: The unexpected culprits

ON JAN. 16th, an article was published wherein a parent appealed to a certain Cebu City school to improve the protocol for “safety and security” of its students. His son was allegedly bullied consistently over the course of the past four months, and yet no action was taken by high authorities.

Starting off 2020 with this theme is quite dark. But after reading that appeal, I immediately saw flashbacks of my darkest moments as a student. It is no big deal—until you consider the fact that it was inflicted NOT by fellow students, but by TEACHERS and HIGH AUTHORITIES.

It was not a problem until my final two school years there—which started after there was a shift of authority. The primary cause for those incidents would be my involvement in the music ministry. It was regarding the turning over of responsibilities from myself to a new teacher. I got to keep my job, but in exchange, a series of incidents would ensue for the next two years—ranging from deception to humiliation.

For the former, I was accused of cutting classes on one occasion, when in fact, I had a perfect attendance since Grade 4. Additionally, colleagues of this new teacher would pretend to be nice to me in my face, sporting their most artificial smiles possible, but would turn around and plan acts of sabotage behind my back. This would lead to my turning out with mediocre performances, where all the blame would likewise be placed on me. How would you feel if you laid your heart out on a certain task, became a victim of sabotage and ultimately get blamed for the entire ordeal?

For the latter, I would often be yelled at in front of much younger students, often in a sarcastic manner that can indeed embarrass whoever the recipient is. Once, I was called out on the PA system for (very softly) playing a classical piece in the background, because a certain teacher claimed it was “noise.” As a result, a bunch of students was cluelessly staring at me. What would these innocent children think of me? Why did I need to go through all of this when all I wished for was to serve? And how in the world can a classical song be “noise”?

It is important to note, however, that I settled differences with this new teacher before I moved to another school. But the fact that the authorities and some coordinators allowed it to happen and even added fuel to the fire, is unacceptable and outrageous.

So what toll did it take on me? It came to the point where, instead of seeing the school as a safe haven like every other student would, I would fear just attending an ordinary school day. Because of the trauma caused by the previous incidents, I would often come to school stressed, fearing what they had next in store.

And true enough, I was in depression for the entire November of my last year. I was even still 16 years old. What would a 16-year-old know about coping with depression? For the record, it was not just any sympathy-seeking kind of depression. It happened because my self-esteem was at its lowest and I completely lost my self-worth. I eventually regained it though, after seeking the assistance of a few trusted individuals. But had it not been for these saints in my life, only fate would tell what would become of me at this time.

That being said, how do we solve this problem? How do we ensure that nobody else will experience this?

The answer lies within yet another question: How can bullying be solved when a number of teachers and high authorities are BULLIES THEMSELVES? How can they address an issue that they, themselves, are doing on a regular basis? Change needs to start within them. If they have problems with certain students, they should settle it professionally instead of ganging up with colleagues and using their superiority to establish fear in those students. They are defeating their own purpose if they are educating students academically, but blatantly harming them mentally, emotionally and psychologically.

Dear students, feel free to voice out your grievances. If you are victims of bullying, whether by a student, teacher, or high authority, do not be afraid to speak out. You have a voice, and you have the freedom to let it be heard. You are all special; do not allow yourselves to succumb to any of this. You deserve much better.

Quoting from Martin Luther King Jr.,“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

By Oscar Tan III, a senior high student at Cebu Doctors’ University