In the Philippines, there had been few studies on bullying despite the obvious importance of the subject. While there are a lot of things that can be learned from foreign researches, it must be noted that the concept of bullying as it has been often studied in other countries is practically a foreign social concept. It could be that the use and understanding of the word in the country is largely consistent with the available literature. This, however, should not stop anyone from studying bullying as conceptualized by different social groups in the country.
Honrejas (1999) investigated incidence of school bullying in 186 schools in the Philippines. Her findings from these schools reported 2,096 cases of bullying. Forty percent occurred in the second year level, 29 percent came from the fist year level, and few cases came from different grade levels in elementary and secondary schools with varying intensity. Additionally, she documented on the forms of bullying mostly indulged by students. She reported that excessive teasing, extortion (food, money and belongings), physical injuries, use of ball pen and pencils to stab the victim is common in elementary level.
Miguel-Baquilod (2004) of the Department of Health Manila made a nationwide survey on secondary students’ health. Included in the survey is violence among youth. It has been reported that of the students surveyed, half of them were involved in physical fight, and second year students are significantly likely to get involved and victimized than third year and fourth year students. One third of students were bullied one or more times in a one-month period. And about three in ten of the victims reported that they were most often physically bullied. Boys were significantly more likely than girls to have experienced such.
A specific study on relational aggression which is otherwise related to indirect bullying was investigated by Carvalho Filho et al. (2004). The effects of different social environments, degrees of friendship, and individual sociability on students’ usage of different types of relational aggression were explored. Their study reported that indirect aggression such as spreading of rumors and silent treatment were more likely being adopted in school than in the workplace. In addition, links between types of relational aggression and levels of sociability were found to have marginally significant effect, the result showed that individuals with low sociability reported that they are as likely to spread rumors, and likely to use backstabbing compared to individuals with high sociability.
Bullies were identified to come from poor families. However, socio-economic status of a family has not been consistently found to be the cause of aggression among children. Similar to Miguel-Baquilod’s findings, the most vulnerable ages for bullying are the early adolescents, ages 11-14 (Honrejas, 1999).
Consistent with the findings in other countries, Honrejas’ study also reported family discord as the major factor that contributed to bullying. Misconception on the true nature of bullying was also found. It was seen as a natural part of growing up among children and therefore thought of as not deserving any serious consideration. School authorities admitted that they thought bullies took initiative because they were just joking.
Duba (1985:349), author of Guidance in Philippine Setting, presented a closely opposite meaning of bullying behavior; he uses the term mental hygiene, which refers to the unwholesomeness or healthfulness of the human mind. It involves a consideration of all conditions or influences, which lead to the establishment, and preservation of mental health. According to Liam as cited by Duba, (1985), students with good mental health will bring happiness to themselves and to others. If they behave badly, mental health is considered poor. Furthermore, children are considered maladjusted. Children who are maladjusted are characterized by failure to achieve their potentialities and meet socially accepted standards. They would show aggressive behavior, rudeness, stealing, and other similar acts of antisocial behavior.
An interesting study by Lopez (1981 as cited in Puyat 1999) which is related to the concept of bullying is his study on aggression. He identified Filipino terms like paladabog, palaaway and palatsismis, which he refers to aggressive behaviors used by a person to attack another person. Duba (1985: 361) identified bullying as one of the disciplinary problems that spring down from personality make-up of individual. A boy with feelings of inferiority may develop anti-social behavior. Those who tend to feel small would tend to fight other classmates who are bigger than themselves to achieve feeling of equality. Those who are slow learners may become bully who finds satisfaction in maltreating his classmates who are fast learners (Duba, 1985: 361). To account for this is Alfred Adler’s concept of inferiority complex. He explains that children who don’t feel accepted, competent, or to belong to desired groups they developed bad feelings about themselves, become frustrated and may result to misbehavior in their drive towards competence (Hergenhahn, B.R. & Olson, M.H., 1999: 104).