DSWD supports positive child disciplining, seeks to consolidate senate bills for more teeth

In light of the National Children's Month this November, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo reiterated the Department's support for the positive disciplining of children, without the use of any form of violence.

Sec. Taguiwalo said that the new DSWD's main thrust is to provide equal and "may malasakit" (compassionate) service to the needy, marginalized, disadvantaged, and vulnerable sectors in society.

Since the children sector is one of the most vulnerable, it is the responsibility of those in authority, to protect their rights and welfare by coming up with measures to achieve this.

"It is normal for children to commit an error, but corporal punishment is not the right path to correct them. DSWD, as the primary agency that safeguards the rights of the children, advocates for positive disciplining. Thus, we support the bills filed in the Senate which promote non-violent disciplining and penalizing those who commit corporal and humiliating acts as punishment to children," Sec. Taguiwalo said.

The United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of the Child defines "corporal" or "physical" punishment as any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light. The UN Committee also considers corporal punishment to be other non-physical but equally cruel and degrading forms of punishment, such as "punishment which belittles, humiliates, denigrates, scapegoats, threatens, scares or ridicules the child."

In a review of the filed bills, the Department opined that the bills will have more teeth if they are consolidated.

These bills are Senate Bill Nos. (SBNs) 1136 and 1189 entitled the "Positive Discipline Act of 2016" filed by Senator Grace Poe and Senate Bill No. 1170 or the "Anti-Corporal Punishment Act of 2016" sponsored by Senator Ma. Lourdes "Nancy" Binay.

DSWD recommends for SBN 1136 to slightly modify on what constitutes a corporal punishment.

"We understand that the bill seeks to balance the interest of the child with the freedom of the parents to raise their children, including the matter of discipline. We recommend for the Committee to revisit and reconcile the use of "however light" because this may curtail parental freedom in ways and in degrees different and much greater than the bill may have intended," Sec Taguiwalo explained.

Other recommendations are:

Under SBN 1136 - Use a generic term in addressing offenders/perpetrators as there are possibilities that the offenders/perpetrators may not be a parent but only a guardian/close relative or even people in the neighborhood whom the child is entrusted to.

Under SBN 1189 - To change "Offended party assisted by an adult" to "Offended Party". The assistance of an adult should not be required to file a complaint especially when the physical punishment is severe and needs urgent intervention. Also, there are instances when a child does not have other company except for the offender. Offenders, especially in the case of parent, may have the tendency to talk to the child to withdraw the complaint. Presence and assistance of an adult maybe requested once the child is safe and have already been briefed by service provider.

"Nababalitaan naman natin 'yung mga napi-feature sa media at naipopost sa social media kung saan binubogbog ang mga bata dahil lang sa simpleng pagkakamali. Kailangan na itong mahinto. Ang kailangan ng mga bata ay tunay na pagmamalasakit, at hindi pananakit. Responsibilidad nating lahat ang siguraduhing ang mga bata ay mananatiling ligtas sa anumang kalupitan (We have all heard and seen the news and the posts on social media where children are being physically abused just for a simple mistake. This has to stop. Children need our true care and not our hurtful punishment. It is our responsibility (government, parents, civil society) to ensure that our Filipino children remain safe from any form of abuse," Sec. Taguiwalo added.

Source: Philippine Information Agency