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‘Ateneo was not heartless’

/ 05:10 AM January 10, 2019

I disagree with the sentiment former senator R. A. V. Saguisag expressed in his letter, “Questionable timing of Ateneo’s decision” (12/31/18).

Saguisag wrote that Ateneo “would have been kinder and gentler to have just said that the serious matter [Ateneo bully’s physical assault against his schoolmates] was under advisement and being seriously probed, with the result to be announced right after the year [2018] would have turned.”

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However, I do think that the timing of its decision was even advantageous to the boy and his family, as it gave them a considerable two- to three-week period during the holiday break to reflect together on his horrible actions captured on video, and carefully plan their next move (mainly what school to transfer him to soon, if such is their plan at this time after all that recent public uproar).

To me, Ateneo was not being heartless as to decide on it that swiftly and announce it publicly a few days before Christmas.

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In fact, it spared the family from the agony of having to still guess and wonder throughout the holidays what punishment the school would eventually mete out to the bully.

If we were to also consider that family, the speedy verdict was laudable, whether or not it was made possible partly or largely by public pressure.

Nevertheless, now that my own heated feelings about that boy have somewhat abated thanks to the resolution from the school’s end, I join Saguisag and the group he classified as “the minority who are for giving the so-called Ateneo bully a second chance.”

Why not? He is young and can still change.

But I join as well countless others who strongly recommended that he, together with his entire family, undergo serious counseling to rectify his violent tendencies and perhaps even the way he (and his siblings?) is raised.

As for the bully’s victims and their families, may I just share with you that having witnessed bullying up close and experiencing it myself a few times in elementary school, I’d say that if there is any silver lining at all in being at the receiving end of it, it is that you would not wish to inflict the same pain (physical or emotional) upon others.

Now as a teacher, I find myself being quick to protect a bullied kid, without getting carried away or being out of line (in my opinion, at least) in my treatment of the bully, who may have his or her personal issues to resolve.

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To those Ateneo boys with whom I deeply sympathize, may you come out of those horrible experiences as the bigger and more enlightened “men for others,” being able to still find within yourselves the capacity to promote neither cruelty nor violence, but kindness, respect, love and peace.

CLAUDE LUCAS C. DESPABILADERAS, [email protected] 

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TAGS: ATENEO, bullying, Claude Lucas C. Despabiladeras, Inquirer letters, Rene Saguisag
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