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House approves bill vs corporal punishment

PhilStar Global logo PhilStar Global 11/15/2018 Delon Porcalla
a crowd of people in a room: House approves bill vs corporal punishment © Michael Varcas House approves bill vs corporal punishment

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has approved a measure that will discourage and prevent parents and other adults from inflicting punishment on children or minors with the intent of causing physical pain. 

House Bill 8239, or the “Positive and Non-Violent Discipline of Children Act,” seeks to protect children from physical, humiliating or degrading acts as a form of punishment. It is also designed to strengthen the country’s legal framework of anti-child abuse laws.

“The lead agency here is the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) with active support of other agencies and the local government units,” Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy of party-list Bagong Henerasyon, principal author of the measure, said. 

But Dy clarified that while spanking and other physical forms of punishment will be prohibited, “children cannot invoke this law to get back at their parents by sending them to jail.” Parents will not be serving jail time for this, she added. 

The measure simply encourages and promotes positive and non-violent discipline of children.

“The Department of Education (DepEd) has long had child protection policies and even a positive discipline manual to guide schools on how to promote non-violent means of discipline,” Dy explained, adding positive discipline is not an entirely new concept. 

The situation changes, on the other hand, “if the case is child abuse or sexual abuse, that is a much more serious matter with jail time consequences” which may then be covered by the special law protecting children like (RA) 7610 (Anti-Child Abuse Law). 

HB 8239 seeks to assist parents in the fulfillment of their parental obligations through positive and non-violent methods of disciplining their children. 

As a result, children shall be shielded from the grave consequences of corporal punishment by prohibiting the infliction of all forms of humiliating or degrading punishment on them in all settings.

Moreover, the measure establishes a legal framework to the country’s commitment to various international agreements such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child and Convention on the Rights of the Child on protecting the young generation of Filipinos.

The bill mandates protection of children from this kind of punishment in homes, schools, institutions, alternative care systems, the juvenile welfare system, places of religious worship and in all other setting where there is direct contact with children.

Any person having personal knowledge of such act or acts may file a report, which shall be brought to the attention of the barangay and/or the police. The police are mandated by the measure to then bring the report to the attention of the barangay or a healthcare provider.

Upon receipt of a report, the barangay captain shall immediately determine if the committed acts fall under the definition of physical, humiliating or degrading acts as a form of punishment.

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