By Anna Valmero, loQal.ph
For Yahoo! Southeast Asia
QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA — The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) lauded the passing of a bill that penalizes spanking or hitting children as a form of discipline in Congress.
The Positive Discipline Act of 2011 passed the first hearing at the House committee on the welfare of children. The bill is co-authored by Tarlac Representative Susan Yap and Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy.
The said bill promotes positive and non-violent forms of disciplining children.
High profile cases of child violence and beatings prompted Congress to act with a proposed legislation to assist parents in fulfilling their parental authority while upholding children's rights.
Once approved into law, the bill mandates a comprehensive program to protect children from all forms of physical or mental (psychological) violence, injury and neglect.
"At most the punishment would be an aresto major, which includes one to 60 days of imprisonment but for cases like this, usually the DSWD (Department of Social Work and Welfare) intervenes to reorient the parents on how to handle their children," said Herrera-Dy.
A study by Plan International, the United Nations Children's Education Fund (UNICEF) and Australian Aid (Ausaid) showed high incidence of school children being subjected to physical punishment to discourage misbehavior.
As defined under the bill, positive and non-violent discipline refers to "an approach to correct the behavior of a child and to teach a lesson that would build self-discipline and emotional control while nurturing a good relationship with the child by understanding his or her needs and capabilities at various ages".
The Department of Education has affirmed its support to the bill and has likewise initiated some actions together with UNICEF that would address violence against children not just in school but at home.
"Evidence stress that violence against children is harmful as it impedes their development and has negative impact on their childhood," noted Child Rights Network (CRN) co-convenor Selena Fortich.
"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 discipline for children."
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