De Lima files measure vs physical punishment on children

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Sen. Leila M. de Lima has filed a measure banning physical discipline, including the use of spanking, shaking, or paddling, as a means to punish children in all settings, such as the home, schools, alternative childcare, places of work and places of detention.

De Lima, a known human rights advocate, filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1348 or the “Anti-Corporal Punishment Act of 2017, which aims to shield Filipino children from corporal punishment and all other forms of humiliating and degrading treatment.

“In the Philippines, there is no specific law that prohibits the use of corporal punishment or physical violence against children,” she said.

The Philippines has yet to pass a law banning corporal punishment despite being a signatory to the UN Convention of the Right of Child which seeks to protect children against torture, or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

“It is imperative to underscore that the protection of children against acts that harm their physical and psychological integrity is a treaty commitment of the Philippines,” the former justice secretary said.

Under her proposed measure, all corporal punishment and all other forms of humiliating or degrading punishment of children shall be prohibited at home, at school, in institutions, at alternative care systems, in employment and at all other settings.

These prohibited acts include hitting through smacking, slapping, spanking with the hand or with an implement such as but not limited to whip, stick, cane, broom, belt, shoe, wooden spoon and other similar instruments.

Also included in these prohibited acts are pulling hair, shaking, twisting joints, cutting or piercing skin, dragging or thrown a child or any form of punishment in which physical force is used or intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort.

De Lima pointed out that the conventional wisdom that the use of physical punishment to impose discipline and instill propriety among children has long been debunked because it was found to be adverse to child’s development.

“Physical punishment makes kids more aggressive; Physical punishment encourages kids to continue the cycle of abuse; and spanking actually alters kids’ brains,” she said.

Noting that other countries have taken more positive steps toward child-discipline either through legislation or protection mechanism, De Lima urged the government to grab the opportune time to pass the law against corporal punishment.

“In 2017, the Philippines is due to submit its combined fifth and sixth periodic reports, hence, this is the most opportune time to enact a law to proscribe corporal punishment. It will also be a historic first in Southeast Asia, and for these reasons the passage of this bill is earnestly sought,” she said.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States. The UPR is a significant innovation of the Human Rights Council which is based on equal treatment for all countries.

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