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PHILIPPINES: Teachers and education officials back corporal punishment bill
A Philippines House measure seeking to stop corporal punishment among children is gaining support.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) threw their support on Monday for House bill 882.
HB 882 says adults face punishment if they are proven to have slapped, kicked, burned, choked, beaten, pinched, whipped, twisted the ears of, threatened, terrorised, ridiculed, cursed, and belittled children for mere misbehaviour or disobedience at home, in school, or in any other place.
DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral said if adults can lodge complaints against physical abuse, children should likewise enjoy the right to be protected from physical and psychological abuses including humiliation.
“We are supporting the bill... [We have] room for negotiation as far as what is allowed and what is not allowed as a measure to discipline the child," Cabral explained.
“[We have to remind children of their mistakes] in more empathic ways after talking to them and giving them the chance," she added.
Cabral said her agency was consulted during the crafting of the bill, authored by Tarlac Rep. Monica Prieto-Teodoro. The measure has been approved in principle by the House committees on revision of laws and the welfare of children.
Cabral said that; "Before thinking of punishing children, let us first think about how we can make them realise their mistakes. We (adults) should serve as a good example".
Cabral added that other countries have penalised corporal punishment, especially those in Scandinavia, which are at the “forefront of children’s rights in Europe."
In expressing his support for the bill, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said that even before it was was crafted, the DepEd's service manual had been directing school officials not to inflict physical punishments on students.
For his part, Antonio Tinio, chairperson of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, also said his group supports the measure. He even cited studies showing that corporal punishment does not resolve the problem of misbehaviour among children.
While admitting that some teachers are guilty of handing down excessive punishments to students, Tinio said blame should not be put solely on educators, especially when each teacher deals with 50 to 80 students in a classroom.
The bill requires the DSWD and other government organisations and parent-teacher-community associations to work together in coming up with a programme to prevent corporal punishment in homes and schools.
Once made punishable by law, victims of corporal punishment – like regular young victims of crimes – can be placed under protective custody of the DSWD. The victims would also be entitled to medical, legal and counseling services.
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