VP Sara reminds teachers: Draw lines, practice professionalism in dealing with students

VP Sara reminds teachers: Draw lines, practice professionalism in dealing with students

By Rjhay E. Laurea

PASIG CITY — Teachers should be careful in building their educator-learner relationship with students and must draw the line and practice professionalism in dealing with them, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte reminded the teachers recently.

During the launch of the Child Protection Unit (CPU) website and the Learner Telesafe Contact Center national hotline, the Vice President made the statement in relation to the culmination of the 30th National Children’s Month at the Department of Education Central Office.

Duterte said that upon assuming her role as the Education Secretary in June this year, not only did she have to think of solutions to the problems that had hounded the department for years, but also had to “deal with disturbing and painful stories about learners being victims of sexual abuse.”

“Some cases were classic examples of sexual grooming — a predatory activity primarily by adult offenders who use their position, resources, charm, and influence to carry out their plan against a child or another vulnerable adult,” she added.

The Department of Education recently issued the DepEd Order No. 49, s. 2022 entitled “Promotion of Professionalism in the Implementation and Delivery of Basic Education Programs and Services” to promote effective and efficient policies and programs.

DEO 49 orders DepEd school officials and employees to “avoid relationships, interaction, and communication, including following social media with learners outside of the school setting, except if they are relatives.”

During last week’s culmination of National Children’s Month, Duterte reiterated the importance of teachers not having out-of-school related contacts or connections with learners.

“Some do not understand my position with regard to professionalism. But truly, if you are a teacher, you have no business drinking alcohol with your students. And if you are a teacher and you are attracted to a student you are drinking with, that is preliminaries to what you want to do to the child,” Duterte said.

“Kaya lagi kong sinasabi talaga sa mga (That is why I always say to the) teachers na (that) you should be professional dahil (because) you are dispensing service to these students who are your clients, and therefore you have to be unbiased and you have to be a role model to them,” she added.

The DepEd Child Protection Unit (CPU) website, according to Duterte, will be the backbone of Filipino learners to know about safety threats, and to whom they should call or communicate when threats happen.

The Learners TeleSafe Contact Center Helpline will address child abuse victims’ concerns, such as a possible backlash, victim shaming, or harsh physical punishment.

Duterte shared her experience when she was still mayor of Davao City that led to the creation of the Kean Gabriel Hotline.

“Noong pagbalik ko (When I came back) as mayor, we always get deaths of children because of abuse — ginulpi, pinahirapan, and pinatay (beaten, tortured and killed). I was asking our City Social Welfare and Development Office, ‘Bakit dumarating tayo pag patay na ang bata? (Why do we arrive when the child is already dead?) Bakit hindi ninyo alam (Why don’t you know) that there is something happening already in the houses in the community?’,” Duterte said.

“I told them to create an anonymous way where people can report. I won’t have to tell you who I am, I don’t have to tell you my name, I just have to tell you kung anong nangyayari sa bata and anong nangyayari sa bahay na iyan (what is happening to the child and what is happening inside that house),” she added.

Kean Gabriel was a child who died because of abuse. Since the creation of the hotline in 2016, the city has no recorded child death due to abuse.

Duterte said the DepEd will be at the forefront of the campaign to end violence and sexual abuse in schools.

“DepEd will ensure a safe and nurturing learning environment by strengthening child protection mechanisms in schools,” Duterte said.

“We look forward to working with our education champions, barangay leaders, civil society partners, and fellow child protection advocates to strengthen our Learners TeleSafe Contact Center Helpline, provide immediate assistance to our learner-victims, and bolster our existing intervention mechanism and referral system,” she added. (ai/mtvn)

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