04 September 2011

Fastrack Senate "Discipline Bill"

Child Discipline
When this blog earlier reported that the Lower House unanimously approved a bill seeking to penalize parents, elders and other children for subjecting a child to any form of corporal punishment or physical and psychological threats as a disciplinary action, we were expecting a similar fast approach will happen at the Senate. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

It is not certain what kept the Upper Chamber from acting on the counterpart Senate bill filed by Senate Pro-Tempore Jose "Jinggoy" E. Estrada. There are unfounded rumors and malicious insinuations that have remained unconfirmed, but the fact of the matter is, the bill is the Senate version is still pending at the committee on youth, women and family relations.

Nevertheless, one of the authors of House Bill 4455, otherwise known as the "The Positive and Non-Violent Discipline on Children Act", Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, hoped that everything will be resolved soon.

Under the bill, corporal punishment refers to cruel and unusual punishment or acts that subject the child to indignities and other excessive chastisement that embarrasses or humiliates the child. It includes physical punishment and is imposed by an adult or by another child to discipline, train or control the victim.

Corporal punishment of children is socially and legally accepted in most countries. In many, it is a significant phenomenon in schools and other institutions and in penal systems for young offenders.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child requires states to protect children from "all forms of physical or mental violence" while they are in the care of parents and others, and the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has underlined that corporal punishment is incompatible with the Convention.

In 1979, Sweden became the first country to prohibit all forms of corporal punishment of children. Since then, at least 10 further states have banned it. Judgements from constitutional or supreme courts condemning corporal punishment in schools and penal systems have also been handed down - including in Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe - and, in 2000, Israel’s Supreme Court declared all corporal punishment unlawful. Ethiopia’s 1994 constitution asserts the right of children to be free of corporal punishment in schools and institutions of care. Corporal Punishment in schools has also been banned in New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Thailand and Uganda.

Nevertheless, surveys indicate that corporal punishment remains legal in at least 60 countries for juvenile offenders, and in at least 65 countries in schools and other institutions. Corporal punishment of children is legally acceptable in the home in all but 11 countries. Where the practice has not been persistently confronted by legal reform and public education, the few existing prevalence studies suggest that it remains extremely common.

Corporal punishment is dangerous for children. In the short term, it kills thousands of children each year and injures and handicaps many more. In the longer term, a large body of research has shown it to be a significant factor in the development of violent behaviour, and it is associated with other problems in childhood and later life.