An activist youth group called on the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to “make urgent responses” that would help eliminate the predatory behaviour in schools.
Activist youth organization Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK), in statement posted on its Facebook page on Wednesday, April 21, also urged the leadership of DepEd and CHED to be “proactive in the fight against rape culture and gender violence” in campuses.
SPARK issued the statement after #FEUHSDoBetter trended on Twitter early this week. The said #FEUHSDoBetter revealed online the incidents of sexual abuse – as alleged by the victims – which involve some faculty members of Far Eastern University High School (FEUHS).
Not isolated cases
SPARK said that incidents of sexual abuse and harassment in schools are not isolated cases “as the same problem is also prevalent in other institutions.”
While school administrations are mandated to create their Committee on Decorum and Investigation (CODI) in line with the Safe Spaces Act of 2019 to address possible cases of sexual harassment in schools, the group maintained that DepEd and CHED – as the main agencies mandated to promote quality education – “must take the lead in ensuring that our learning environments are inclusive and safe” whether online or offline.
“Their silence only enables the continued suffering of victim-survivors and allows campus predators to victimize more members of our communities,” SPARK said.
Meanwhile, SPARK expressed its support to all survivors of gender-based violence and abuse. “We stand with you in your journey towards justice and healing,” the group added.
Given this, the group urged the administration of the FEUHS to address the “horrible and unacceptable situation” by holding the “perpetrators accountable” by ensuring that their professional licenses are revoked and to assist students and alumni in filing legal complaints as necessary.
SPARK added that FEUHS administration should also “install transparent, just and survivor-centered processes to prevent and address cases of gender-based violence and harassment.”
The group also urged FEUHS administration to “to issue a genuine apology for its gross negligence and failure to fulfill its duty of care, enabling the conditions for their students to be victimized.”
After it has “received social media mentions of sexual harassment supposedly involving some of its faculty members,” FEUHS issued a statement on April 19 urging the community to report the said incidents to the Human Resources Office.
FEUHS also condemned “in the strongest terms” the reports of alleged sexual harassment – adding that the school administration “takes these claims seriously.”
It also urged the students involved to “report these kinds of incidents” through email along with “supporting evidence so these matters may be handled accordingly.”
FEU added that “all efforts are being made to maintain a safe school environment free from any gender-based sexual harassment.”
However, SPARK argued that the institution cannot claim that they take this sensitive matter “very seriously” when years of “inaction resulted in the proliferation of campus predators lurking in their community.”
“The assurance of reform and action is the first step in delivering justice for victim-survivors,” SPARK said. “They owe it to the FEUHS community to do better,” it added.