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MANILA, January 21, 2012—The anti-corporal punishment bill for children currently pending in the Philippine Senate, would be the first of its kind in Asia, if passed.
This according to Marta Santos País, the United Nations’ Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) on Violence Against Children, who visited Manila for a dialogue with children and children rights’ advocates, yesterday.
The Anti-Corporal Punishment Act authored by Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy and Tarlac (2nd District) Rep. Susan Yap, seeks to prevent hitting or any other forms of violent and humiliating punishment as a form of discipline to children. On the other hand, it promotes “positive” disciplining techniques among parents in order to eliminate the alleged cruelty against children.
País said that she will mention her visit in Manila and about the bill when she speaks before the delegates of the UN meeting on violence against children in Geneva on March.
“I will mention my visit in Manila and tell them that the Philippines is one of the most important countries where I had a dialogue with the children themselves and heard their recommendations on how to eliminate violence among them. I will also tell them that a law on anti-corporal punishment has been passed in the House of Representatives but is still pending in the Senate. I will also tell them that the bill needs to be passed as quickly as possible,” said País.
Hopes for a quick response of the PH Senate
Child Rights Network (CRN), meanwhile, hopes for the quick response of the Senate regarding the legislation of the law in Asia that prohibits the use, literally, of the stick as a tool for disciplining erring children.
“We hope that these recommendations will not fall on deaf ears and that our lawmakers and the concerned agencies will seriously consider enacting laws, strictly implementing existing laws, and establishing mechanisms to eliminate violence against children,” said child protection adviser of the non-governmental organization, Save the Children and CRN member Wilma Bañaga.
Corporal punishment has negative effects—studies
The CRN argued that violent and/or humiliating forms of discipline has negative effect on children. And some studies, sadly, show the truthfulness of this assertion.
In an essay published by the International Child and Youth Care Network (CYC-Net), an Africa based non-profit network of child care experts and advocates in 2001, it says that spanking, as a form of discipline, does not work most of the time; rather the painful punishment leaves a psychological and emotional scar on children being punished.
“The long-term use of corporal punishment tends to increase the probability of deviant and antisocial behaviours, such as aggression, adolescent delinquency and violent acts inside and outside the family as an adult. One explanation is that after living with violence that is considered ‘legitimate’, people expand this to accept violence that is not considered legitimate. For example, violent acts that are considered legitimate include maintaining order in schools by punishing children, deterring criminals and defending one’s country against foreign enemies. The ‘cultural spillover’ theory proposes that the more a society uses force for socially legitimate ends, the greater the tendency for those engaged in illegitimate behaviours to also use force to attain their own ends. Corporal punishment has been associated with a variety of psychological and behavioral disorders of children and adults, including anxiety, alcohol abuse, depression, withdrawal, low self-esteem, impulsiveness, delinquency and substance abuse,” the CYC-Net said.
What makes spanking and other forms of “cruel” punishment wrong is that its administration is during the “heat” of the moment, or the very instance when the child has done something that is perceived to be wrong.
“It seems that mild physical punishment will have some effect on aggression and delinquency if the punishment is administered in an atmosphere of warmth, reasoning, and acceptance. However, studies indicate that few children are spanked in this type of rational and warm emotional environment. Punishment is usually administered in the heat of the moment, when anger is the strongest emotional influence. Children tend to perceive corporal punishments administered in anger as rejection by the punisher – usually a parent or other person important to the child. The strength of this perception is determined by the severity and frequency of punishments received. The more rejected children feel, the more impaired their psychological adjustment tends to be. Perceived rejection and physical punishment each negatively affect the child’s emotional and psychological development,” the CYC-Net further explained.
Furthermore, the punishment of children comes not as a correction of the perceived misbehavior or wrongdoing of a child, but a symptom of the frustration of the adult allegedly disciplining the child.
“Caregivers who use corporal punishment are often angry, irritable, depressed, fatigued, and stressed. They apply the punishment at a time that they "have lost it," and caregivers frequently express remorse and agitation while punishing their children,” states Dr. Angelo Giardino, a WebMD Health Professional Network fellow in his article about child abuse published on April 19, 2011.
“To avoid this risk of harming the child and in order to model nonviolent behavior for children, many health care professionals advocate child discipline via consistent, nonphysical force based approaches such as time out, loss of privileges, expressions of parental disappointment, and grounding,” said Giardino. He added that approximately, 50 percent of US pediatricians are opposed generally to corporal punishment while about a third is completely opposing its use for they have also suffered much when they were children. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]