Physical punishment of kids banned in Cebu CityBy Doris C. Bongcac
CEBU CITY—Pinching even a child’s ear is now prohibited in Cebu City.
The Cebu City council is redefining how parents should rear their children by passing an ordinance Wednesday that outlaws physical punishment of children in the city.
Parents, relatives, teachers, nannies and housemaids, who will inflict pain or even humiliate children by shaving their hair or verbally abusing them, are among those covered by the ordinance.
Violators face a maximum fine of P5,000 or imprisonment of more than six months or both depending on court discretion.
Councilor Leah Japson said the council was not trying to deprive parents of their right to discipline children.
The ordinance, she said, merely prohibits physical abuse of a child.
“Just because they are our children, we should beat them up,” she said.
Councilor Alvin Dizon said a 2005 survey conducted by the Save the Children in the Philippines showed that many parents in the country had physically abused their children.
He said 85 percent of the child respondents covered by the survey admitted they were punished at home for misbehavior.
At least 82 percent of the child respondents admitted they were hit in different parts of the body, said Dizon.
Councilor Jose Daluz III, a lawyer, said parents should be exempted from the ordinance because parents have a right to discipline their children.
Discipline sometimes required spanking the child, he added. His views were supported by Councilor Ronald Cuenco.
“Whether the punishment is justifiable or not, parents should not be made liable because it is the right of the parent to discipline their children,” he said.
The two councilors, however, could not convince their 11 colleagues to vote against the ordinance.
Three councilors were absent during the session yesterday while two others were outside the session hall when the voting was held.
Prohibited acts under the ordinance include hitting, slapping and kicking a child.
Shaving of hair without the child’s permission, verbal assault, intimidation, neglecting children’s needs or exposing children to hazardous substances are also banned.
Other prohibited acts include pinching of ears, pulling of hair and forcing the child to kneel.
The ordinance provides that anyone may report child abuse to village officials or health care providers who will refer the case to the city’s Department of Social Welfare and Services.
First time offenders will be asked to seek counsel or anger management sessions. Repeat offenders will be charged, said Councilor Japson.