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Group seeks state action vs reported abuses at local high school

THE CHILD Rights Network (CRN) has called for government action on the alleged sexual abuse, harassment, and other forms of violence suffered by students at the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) in Los Baños, Laguna.

The group cited an in-depth feature article published by VICE World News at the end of June which revealed the government’s alleged “slapdash approach” in addressing the issue, “enabling the continuation of these horrid abuses.”

“The reported crimes against children are crimes of power, with power relations between teachers and house parents in the boarding school tilted against their victims,” CRN, an alliance of organizations and agencies pushing for children’s rights legislation in the Philippines, said in a statement on Wednesday.

The state-owned PHSA has called VICE’s portrayal “unfair,” and denied accusations that it is a “haven for abuse.”

“PHSA, just like any other institution, is not perfect,” it said in a statement posted on its Facebook page on Wednesday. “But please be assured all our school personnel are working hand-in-hand towards providing our students a safe learning environment, whether online or in Makiling.”

The institution’s management said they sympathized with their alumni who reported the past abuses and have informed them to file formal complaints with the proper forum and the school’s designated committees.

CRN said a national review of procedures on child protection in educational institutions is needed to know if this issue also persists in other schools across the country, and what immediate actions can be taken.

“No renowned artist can and should hide under the shadow of artistic pursuits to justify sexual abuse, harassment, and toxic treatment of their students,” it said.

“Schools should be safe spaces, not places where abuse and harassment thrive,” it added. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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