Female senators: Ban corporal punishment in PH homes, schools

MANILA, Philippines – Three female senators, all mothers, filed separate bills seeking to ban all forms of corporal or physical punishment to discipline children.

Senators Risa Hontiveros, Grace Poe, and Nancy Binay filed their own bills – Senate Bills 1189, 1136, and 1170, respectively – promoting "positive and non-violent discipline" of children. (READ: Ending corporal punishment in PH homes)

While corporal punishment may be considered normal by some, senators said it is ineffective in disciplining kids of all ages. It only ends in violence, they added.

Corporal punishment, as defined in the bills, refers to physical force or degrading acts imposed upon a child as punishment by an adult, who has been given or has assumed authority or responsibility for discipline.

"[I]mposing physical, verbal, psychological cruelty on children creates injuries that can affect their emotional and mental development and can haunt and scar them for life. In some cases, it may already be abuse. Children should not be raised in a cruel environment. Punishments should be corrective, not violent," Hontiveros said.

"Most often, it produces anger, resentment, and low self-esteem among children. It also teaches the child that violence is an acceptable behavior and is a solution to problems; thus, corporal punishment perpetuates itself as children imitate the action of adults," Poe said in her explanatory note.

"Every child has the right to special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their development," Binay said.

Penalties

Violators would face imprisonment under the Revised Penal Code, Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, or RA 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act.

Hontiveros and Binay want the maximum penalty under existing penal laws, except when the above laws provide for a higher penalty.

If the penalty imposable for the act is only arresto menor or arresto mayor, the prosecutor may refer the accused adult to the local Social Welfare and Development Office for counseling and intervention, instead of filing a case against the person.

However, if the offender has been previously charged under this measure, the court may suspend his or her parental authority in accordance with The Family Code of the Philippines. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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