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Sara bats for safe, healthy spaces in schools

VICE President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte has appealed to teachers and non-teaching personnel to ensure that schools are safe and healthy spaces for learners.

Duterte made the appeal in a speech during the National Children’s Month event last Monday where she disclosed that the hotline launched by DepEd last year to report cases of abuse against children has already received more than 1,700 reports.

“Dapat isaisip ng ating mga teaching at non-teaching personnel that there is a safe and healthy space para for kids in our schools,” Duterte said, adding the department is readying the guidelines to implement the Safe Spaces Law in more than 47,000 public schools in the country.

Duterte said of the 1,709 reports received by the DepEd Learner Telesafe Contact Center Helpline, verbal abuse topped the list of reports, followed by sexual abuse and cyberbullying.

The hotline was launched last year as part of the department’s Learner’s Rights and Protection Office.

“The primary objective when we launched this helpline is to offer immediate assistance, intervention, and referral to any reported incidents of learner rights and protection violations,” Duterte said.

The hotline was launched following the uproar after several teachers at the Bacoor National High School were alleged to have made sexual advances on their students.

The scandal at the Bacoor High School followed controversies that hounded other schools in the country whose teachers faced similar accusations of “grooming” their students or sexual harassment.

In July last year, allegations of emotional, verbal and sexual abuse in the Philippine High School for the Arts in Los Banos, Laguna prompted Duterte to request the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct an investigation.