House passes bill on corporal punishment

Posted on June 04, 2011

THE HOUSE of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill imposing penalties to those using corporal punishment to discipline children.

Under House Bill 4455, or an Act Promoting Positive and Non-violent Discipline in lieu of Corporal Punishment of Children, the prohibited acts are: forcing the minor to kneel on stones, salt or pebbles; threat and intimidation; squatting; public humiliation; deliberate neglect of child’s physical needs; exposing to substances that can cause discomfort; and imposing tasks that the minor is incapable of doing such as forcing to skip sleep and verbal assaults.

Violators who are not parents of the child face the maximum penalty of 17 years in prison.

The same penalty will be imposed on parents who habitually commit the offense.

Ernesto Almocera, Jr., head of the Child Rights Network Secretariat, said in an e-mail that the approval of the bill is a welcome development in promoting non-violent discipline, but added that it can still be improved.

Lighter form of physical punishment such as pinching and pulling of ears, for instance, has been removed from the list of prohibited acts.

"The approval of this bill into law will hopefully decrease the incidence of violence against children at homes, schools, alternate care centers and other settings," he said.

"However, we would recommend further amendments on the final version of the bill to also prevent even the lighter forms of physical and psychological or humiliating punishment."

A counterpart bill, filed by Senate Pro-Tempore Jose "Jinggoy" E. Estrada, is pending at the committee on youth, women and family relations. -- Noemi M. Gonzales