Save the Children lauds passage of Positive Discipline Bill
MANILA, Philippines—International child rights group Save the Children has welcomed the passage of the Positive Discipline Bill in the House of Representatives, which seeks to ban the use of corporal punishment.
But the group stressed that the bill, if enacted into law, will not send to jail all parents and teachers who spank and scold their children, except in cases where the punishment results in extreme physical injuries and psychological damage.
“What the bill does is to encourage and support parents in effectively disciplining their children by teaching or training them to use positive and nonviolent forms of discipline,” said Stephen Ashby, country director of Save the Children.
“Positive discipline is an approach in disciplining that respects children’s dignity as a person, strengthens communication and helps build a trusting and loving relationship between children and their parents,” said Ashby.
The bill prohibits the corporal punishment of children, including light penalties such as spanking, pinching, hair pulling and ear twisting. It also bans punishment that humiliates and degrades children such as verbal abuse, blaming, cursing and name calling.
The government is mandated to provide programs on non-violent parenting such as parent education sessions, counselling and other interventions for parents and caregivers.
It will also institute mechanisms, including the local councils for the protection of children, to receive and respond to reported cases. The bill seeks to strengthen child protection already contained in the Child Abuse and Exploitation Law and the Revised Penal Code.
Citing studies done globally, Wilma Bañaga, Save the Children Child Protection adviser said that corporal punishment does children more harm than good.
“Instead of teaching and guiding children, corporal punishment hurts children physically and emotionally, and destroys their self-confidence,” she said.
“It damages their relationship with their parents or guardians; and instills fear, mistrust, resentment and anger among them. It also teaches children that it is acceptable to use violence to resolve conflicts and control others,” said Bañaga.
She said that since corporal punishment is generally ineffective in teaching self-discipline and responsibility, it tends to escalate over time.
“What started as seemingly harmless or mild spanking can turn into severe beatings, cruelty or terribly demeaning words and acts,” Bañaga said.
She said that most parents who use corporal punishment are themselves disciplined in the same manner, or never had any exposure to or information about other ways of disciplining their children.
“They learned corporal punishment from their parents or grandparents. However, the bill challenges the practice of corporal punishment and aims to promote instead a culture of peace and respect for human rights and dignity,“ she said.
“This law is very important because it makes all forms of physical and humiliating or degrading punishment of children unacceptable, thereby giving children equal protection as adults against physical assault, torture, denigration and other forms of violence,” said Bañaga.
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