Corporal punishment exposes children to abuse, violence

Posted on March 18, 2012

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The home and school are considered first and second homes of children.

The safety of children in these places however is put to the test with the prevailing culture that still considers corporal punishment as part of the discipline regimen on children.

“Most of the reported cases of violence on children however happened at home,” said Emma Patalinghug, child welfare specialist of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

She said it’s already a cultural norm for most families to inflict corporal punishment whenever a child commits mistake.

“We can’t also blame the parents of these children. Probably they have also these experiences (of being disciplined when they were growing up),” Patalinghug said.

Wilfredo O. Tano, Administrative Officer of DepEd Region 7-Cebu City Division, said corporal punishment is still happening in schools.

Tano, currently the Dep-Ed’s education program supervisor of private schools, said the government’s policy is not to tolerate it.

The online edition of Encylopedia Brittanica defines corporal punishment as inflicting of phyical pain upon a person’s body as punishment for a crime or infraction..”

Nelma Ople, a 27-year-old mother of two, shared her experience in school corporal punishment 20 years ago.

She said her experience of being beaten up by teachers in Grade 1, as a form of disciple is still fresh in her memory.

“I was called by my teacher to answer on the board a division problem. For five minutes, I was still in front of the black board staring on my Mathematics book. I was scared because I don’t know the answer. The next thing I knew, my teacher got the book that I was holding and struck me at the back, hitting my head on the board,” she said in Cebuano.

“Nihilak ko atong higayona kay alangan uwaw baya. Imong emotions nagsagol na baya. Ang ka-uwaw ang kasakit. Sakit baya, sakit gyud uy (I cried at the time, I was humiliated. You have conflicting emotions of pain and embarassment. It was painful),” she added.

Nelma said when she and her classmates get zero in their tests, they were ordered to place their hands in the table so they can be beaten with a stick.

She recalled a seatmate who used white glue every after tests.

“He told us to spread it evenly in our palms so that when we’re beaten by the stick, the impact is not that painful,” Nelma said.

At that time there was no law yet against corporal punishment in schools.

Public policy on punishment

Today, the Department of Education is already institutionalizing Personal Safety Lessons (PSL) in both elementary and secondary schools nationwide with the view of creating a child-friendly environment at all levels.

This is in keeping with Section 13, Article 11 of the Philippine Constitution and Section 32 of Republic Act 7610 otherwise known as “An Act Providing for Stronger Deterrence and Special Protection against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination.

Tano said, “there are punishments made by the school but we never tolerate corporal punishment.”

“The school can discipline a child but there are limitations. We don’t impose corporal punishments,” he added.

Corporal punishment, he said, include inflicting physical harm and verbal abuse.

DePEd procedures on complaints

The DepEd has created a school grievance committee in public schools to deal with complaints on corporal punishment.

This committee is mandated to investigate complaints against corporal punishment by parents and pupils.

“We have rules of procedure regarding handling administrative cases. If it’s oral complaint, the one who will take action is the principal. The principal will call the child and the accused teacher together with the parents. If the teacher will acknowledge that she did it, she will be reprimanded,” Tano said.

“The teacher will be advised. If the parents will understand the side of the teacher, the teacher will promise that it will be on record. The next time she will do it, she will be recommended for disciplinary sanctions,” added Tano.

Why corporal punishment?

Elizabeth Duma, guidance counselor of St. Theresa’s College said the heavy workload may have something to do with teacher’s short temper which in some cases result in them hitting their pupils.

Such teachers may have a hard time coping with children’s energy and restlessness, she said.

“With so many sessions in the morning and in the afternoon, that will be too taxing for the teachers,” Duma said.

Domestic problems at home could aggravate the stress teachers face in their work.

Duma said teachers are just human beings who bear a lot of pressure and problems at home and in school.

Teachers faced with this situation, may find inflicting physical harm on pupils as an “outlet.”

But she said this only compounds the problem as violence is very traumatic to children.

“If the gravity of the abuses is severe, then therapy or therapeutic treatment is needed for these abused children,” Duma said. /Tweeny Malinao, Correspondent

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