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Bawal na ang palo! Senate OKs bill banning corporal punishment for kids

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The Senate on Monday passed on third and final reading a measure prohibiting corporal punishment–such as kicking and slapping–as well as “mental violence” against children below 18 years old.

The senators approved Senate Bill No. 1477, otherwise known as an act of promoting Positive and Non-Violent Discipline of children, seeks to protect children from all forms of physical and mental violence by prohibiting beating, kicking, slapping, lashing on any part of a child’s body, with or without the use of an instrument such as broom, cane, whip or belt.

SBN 1477 also seeks to prohibit the pulling of a child’s hair, shaking, twisting of joints, cutting or piercing the skin, dragging or throwing a child and to perform physically painful or damaging acts such as squatting, standing or sitting in a contorted position, holding weight or weights for an extended period, kneeling on stones, salt or pebbles as well as verbal abuse or assaults, including intimidation or threat or bodily harm, swearing or cursing, ridiculing or denigrating a child or making him look foolish in front of his peers or the public.

“This bill seeks to develop a comprehensive program to provide parents and those who exercise parental authority over children with adequate parenting tools and learning resources in employing a positive and non-violent way of disciplining children,” said Senator Risa Hontiveros, sponsor of SBN 1477.

She said that the bill also prohibits the imprisonment of a child or exposure to substances that could cause discomfort or threaten the child’s health including fire, ice, water, smoke, pepper, alcohol or dangerous chemicals such as bleach or insecticides, excrement or urine and tying up a child and other similar acts.

“Corporal punishment, while seemingly benign, poses a serious danger not only because of its prevalence in our households and communities but because of its appearance of inoffensiveness,” she said.

Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate Committee of Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, said parents who suffered from punishment as children continue the pattern of harm on their own children.

“The practice has to be stopped,” she said. The senator cited a 2011 Pulse Asia survey which showed that 66 percent or two in three parents discipline their children through corporal punishment.

She said spanking with bare hands, rolled paper or small stick was the most common corporal punishment accounting for 54.5 percent of the children. This is followed by pulling of hair, pinching or twisting of ears.

She said 30.3 percent of children suffered from more severe forms of abuse such as slapping, kicking, smothering, tying, drowning or burning while 4.6 percent were physically harmed and needed hospitalization.

Hontiveros cited a 2016 National Baseline Study on Violence Against Children which showed that corporal punishment was the main driver for violence against children.

She said a study conducted by De la Cruz, Protacio, Balanon, et al., showed corporal punishment eroded parent-child relationships because children viewed their parents as givers of pain and led them to mistrust and avoid their parents.

“This bill aims to set the standards of behavior to use non-violent means of discipline and help parents utilize positive discipline instead of punishments,” she added.

Under the bill, a written citation by the barangay chairperson or his/her representative will be given to the parent, guardian or the adult concerned indicating that he/she should desist, stop and refrain from using corporal punishment for the first offense. A mediation and reconciliation meeting should also be conducted.

Parents, guardians or adults will be given another citation and be required to attend counselling and positive discipline seminar for the second offense.

The Barangay Council for the Protection of Children, through the barangay chair will initiate and file the necessary complaint against the parent, guardian or adult before law enforcement authorities for the third offense and a mediation and reconciliation meeting will be conducted.

Aside from Hontiveros, the measure was introduced by Senators Grace Poe, Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay and Leila de Lima.