PHILIPPINES - Anti-spanking bill passes first hurdle in House
By, March 25, 2011

MANILA, Philippines - A House bill promoting positive discipline instead of spanking and other forms of violent discipline has passed the first hurdle in Congress.

The bill, entitled the Positive Discipline Act of 2011, was approved by the House committee on the welfare of children.

Once the bill becomes a law, it will put in place measures to provide protection for children from violence, injury and neglect.

Partylist Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy and Tarlac Rep. Susan Yap authored the bill, which calls for positive discipline as a way to correct a child's behavior and teach a lesson. The method is said to nurture a good relationship between parent and child.

In a previous interview on "The Rundown" on ANC, Yap said, "The purpose is not to criminalize parents or persons of authority but to make them aware that there are other forms of discipline. It's wrong, a misnomer, that discipline has been made synonymous to physical punishment which is not right."

Violent disciplinary tactics have been found to have harmful consequences, according to a new global report released by UNICEF entitled "Child Disciplinary Practices at Home".

It said in a statement that existing studies "show that even mild forms of physical discipline are harmful to children, hindering their cognitive capacity and increasing the proclivity for future violent acts. Violent psychological discipline – including ridicule, threats and intimidation – has also been shown to have a range of negative behavioral impacts in childhood and beyond."

The report was conducted among low- and middle-income countries and showed that out of those surveyed, 3 out of 4 children have had violent discipline, about half have had physical punishment, and 3 out of 4 have had psychological aggression.

The violence was mostly committed at home. “Most violence that is inflicted upon children is committed in the home – and thus tends to be hidden,” said Theresa Kilbane, UNICEF's Senior Advisor for Child Protection. “This report seeks to bring the extent of violent disciplinary practices out of the shadows to promote alternative, non-violent, forms of discipline and participatory forms of child-rearing.”

The group Child Rights Network (CRN) is supportive of the bill.

“There are global evidences that violence against children is harmful as it impedes their development and has negative impact on their childhood. This is an opportunity for the Philippines to be in the forefront of the advocacy to institutionalize and promote positive and non-violent ways of disciplining children,” CRN) said Selena Fortich, CRN co-convenor.

The Department of Education, according to UNICEF, has also affirmed its support of the bill.

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