THE initial response of Pangasinan Schools Division 2 to the incidence of violence at the Mangaldan National High School that resulted in the death of one of its students is timely, if not long overdue.

In fact, we will not be surprised if most of our school principals and teachers are not aware of the salient directives of the Department of Education’s Child Protection Policy. Indeed, the directive to revisit the policy is a good place to start. But even the directive is not enough to protect students against bullying and violence at this day and age. Our youths are bombarded daily with scenes and plots of violence and criminality in our movie, TV series and e-games. The need for national discussion on the lowering of age of criminal accountability is proof of this.

Clearly, our youths lack discernment of moral values. It’s bad enough that our educational system decided to forgo the subject on Good Manners and Right Conduct in the last decades but for most parents to believe that they are no longer accountable for their children provides the formula for the shaping of a generation of misfits and criminals. The rise of rape cases and teenage pregnancies is not even in the agenda.

The situation calls for a far wider approach to the worrisome situation. Local governments through the barangays must step up with their implementation of the administration’s crime prevention program, and re-establish accountability of both the delinquent juvenile and the parents. 

The missing link in our present society’s failure to shape a better future for our youth is the absence of accountability on everyone – parents, schools and barangays.  DepEd has started it, barangays and parents need to step up to be accountable. The time for passing the buck is over. The deadly consequences of our neglect are staring back at us.

Education, not detention

REFORM or restrain?  That is the question begging for an answer amid talks of lowering the age for children from 15 to either 9 or 12 in conflict with the law.  Age doesn’t matter actually in resolving cases involving minors. Correct handling is the key.  Restraining young law violators means keeping them in custody under guardianship by authorities steeped in youth management.  Reforming them should be the main thrust.  In correctional facilities, schools for reformatory direction for kids embroiled in crimes must be put up first before a new juvenile law is enacted.  This is where the Department of Education should also come in.  Bahay Pag-asa, the place for erring kids, should be upped in number from just 60 now nationwide to a million and one edifices, with schools within the premises erected, too.  Education, not detention, for the hope of the fatherland; that should be the cry of the moment.

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