Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the viral Tiktok video of a teacher ‘scolding’ her students

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the viral Tiktok video of a teacher ‘scolding’ her students

Pursuant to its mandate as Ombud for Children, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expresses concern over the viral Tiktok video of a teacher scolding her students.

A school is a place of learning and must always be a safe place for children. Using demeaning and debasing words violates the inherent dignity of children and can have a lasting adverse effect on them. Teachers have the power to shape student’s consciousness and perception. Demoralizing and discriminatory language, such as what can be seen in the video, can negatively affect the students’ perception of their self-worth, which can impact many areas of their life.

Under Section 3 (b)(2) of the Republic Act No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, child abuse includes “any act by deeds or words that debases, degrades, or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child.” The same provision is adopted in the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Child Protection Policy. The said policy also requires positive and non-violent discipline of children “based on the fundamental principle that children are full human beings with basic human rights.” Even in cases when reprimanding is merited, it is expected that teachers exercise professionalism, restraint, and use appropriate, child-friendly language.

Access to safe education where the dignity of a child is respected, protected, and fulfilled is a fundamental right of a child that is enshrined in the United Nations Conventions of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

The Commission notes the decision of DepEd to reprimand the teacher and impose no sanction on her. While we acknowledge the due process accorded to the teacher and the warning issued to her, we highlight the importance of firmly applying the DepEd Child Protection Policy in building a genuinely safe learning space for students. It shall also serve as a strong message to those with propensity to exceed their authority that may not be seen on social media. At the same time, CHR stresses the importance of instilling discipline in children using positive approach.

CHR also notes the sentiment of teachers that the cited policy is sometimes taken advantage against teachers and there were instances when they were either falsely accused, scandalized, humiliated, extorted, intimidated, or even detained due to minor or “honest mistakes.” To respond to such sentiment, the DepEd can include a provision in the policy that can help ensure that it will not be misused against teachers. As in any policy, it must be stressed that the best interests of children must be primordial as set forth in Article 3 (1) of the UNCRC.

Teachers, under the law, are considered as second parents of students in school. It is expected that they are not only committed to teaching but are also duty-bound to ensure that schools are nurturing, enabling, and safe spaces that are conducive for learning and free from all forms of abuses, whether physical or verbal. ###