Let ‘positive discipline’ replace outmoded corporal punishment

Posted on July 3, 2012


A NON-GOVERNMENT organization (NGO) known for its advocacy for children and social welfare officials welcomed the Cebu City Council anti-spanking ordinance, saying it could serve as a model for other local government units.

Noemi Truya-Abarientos of the Children’s Legal Bureau (CLB) said that with the ordinance, society should end corporal punishment as an outmoded practice, and should learn to use positive discipline on children.

“Corporal punishment is child abuse…Child experts are now advocating positive discipline, which believes in the philosophy that there are no bad children, only good and bad behaviors,” said the lawyer.

She said the ordinance would help improve child protection system must be echoed by other LGUs.

Abarientos said while it is a positive first step, it should be followed by adequate education for parents about positive discipline.

“Imprisonment of violators may not be the solution. Children don’t want their parents imprisoned – only that the beatings should stop,” Abarientos told Cebu Daily News.

She said the CLB encountered disagreements among parents, guardians, and teachers on how to discipline children.

Abarientos said those who use corporal punishment insist they have lived “by the rod” and turned out to be fine citizens.

Those favoring corporal punishment complain that children today are hardheaded and blame this on child protection laws.

“We can only glean that parents and teachers who advocate the old ways don’t know any other effective means of disciplining a child. Positive discipline is already used in schools (and this resulted to) improved performance,” she said.

Through positive discipline, Abarientos said the child learns not through anger or pain, but by understanding what goes on around him.

“He or she learns empathy, not indifference to other’s feelings. He or she learns to get across a message through discussions, not through violence and threats,” Abarientos said.

Emma Patalinghug, child and youth welfare program specialist of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, welcomed the ordinance and said parents should set house rules in order to have orderly homes.

“The best way to teach a child is through role modeling. Parents should set rules at home and be the first ones to follow those rules. Most parents have been the violators themselves,” she said.

From January to June 2012, Patalinghug said there were 24 cases of physical abuse on children, mostly domestic violence.

“We expect physical abuse cases to lower (with the passage of an ordinance),” she said.

Lorena Tapia, a mother of two, said she would willingly comply with the ordinance because she does not believe in spanking her children.

“If you spank a child, he or she becomes more stubborn. This is also good because we already know that teachers or housemaids can no longer hurt our children,” she said in Cebuano.

Councilor Alvin Dizon said the city government should campaign for positive discipline through partner civic groups.

But Councilor Joey Daluz said he fears the ordinance may be abused by people.

“Especially in slum areas where people are used to filing cases. Maybe just because somebody would see his enemy spanking his child, he would immediately have him sued as a third-party complainant,” he said.

He said the ordinance may form a culture similar to that in the US where it’s easy for children to threaten, blackmail or sue their parents for any perceived abuse.

Daluz said he believes that a little spanking is tolerable as long as it is done to teach children a lesson.

He said the ordinance is sweeping and doesn’t distinguish between good and bad parents.
“If parents abuse the rights of the children, we have existing laws that can be hurled against them,” he said.

Dr. Rene Josef Bullecer, country director of Human Life International, said the ordinance may be abused.

“Consider Republic Act 9344, several minors commit crimes because they know they won’t be imprisoned. The government should not intrude on the way parents discipline their children,” Bullecer said.

He said the country already has several laws protecting the rights of children.

“Parents would no longer have a voice in the family since they may be accused of verbal abuse,” Bullecer said.

He said the ordinance may turn out like Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 which has been used by minors aged 15 and below to shield them from the consequences of commiting a crime.

Under this law, a child 15 years of age or under at the time of the commission of the offense shall be exempt from criminal liability.

The child is supposed to be subjected to an “intervention program” by the State through agencies like the social welfare deparment.

If the child taken into custody is 15 years old or below, the child has to be immediately released to his or her parents or guardian, or the child’s nearest relative, or the government. /Patricia Andrea Pateña, Correspondent

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