House bill prohibits spanking, other negative forms of disciplining children

A BILL promoting positive, non-violent discipline for children awaits third reading approval when Congress session resumes next month.

If House Bill 8239 or Positive and Non-Violent Discipline of Children Act is passed into law, spanking and other physical forms of punishment may become a thing of the past.

Approved on second reading, the bill was principally authored by Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy.

It seeks to protect children from physical, humiliating, or degrading acts as a form of punishment.

The bill seeks to assist parents in the fulfillment of their parental obligations through positive and non-violent methods of disciplining their children.

As a result, children shall be shielded from the grave consequences of corporal punishment by prohibiting the infliction of all forms of humiliating or degrading punishment on them in all settings.

Moreover, the measure establishes a legal framework to the country’s commitment to various international agreements such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child, and Convention on the Rights of the Child on protecting the young generation of Filipinos.

HB 8239 defines physical, humiliating, or degrading acts of punishment as any form of punishment or discipline in which physical force is used and intended to cause pain or discomfort or any non-physical act that causes a child to feel belittled, denigrated, threatened, or ridiculed.

The bill mandates that children must be protected from this kind of punishment in homes, schools, institutions, alternative care systems, the juvenile welfare system, places of religious worship, and in all other settings where there is direct contact with children.

Upon receipt of a report, the punong barangay shall immediately determine if the committed acts fall under the definition of physical, humiliating, or degrading acts as a form of punishment.

If there is such determination, the punong barangay may refer both the offender and the offended party to mediation and conciliation.

In extreme cases where the safety of the children is at stake, the punong barangay may recommend temporary protection orders, taking into consideration the best interest of the children.

The Punong Barangay shall require repeat offenders to undertake seminars on positive discipline, anger management, and children’s rights; undergo counseling or therapy; and/or avail of other rehabilitative services as may be applicable.

Moreover, the measure does not prevent the imposition upon all offenders the maximum penalties provided for under existing laws if the offense is punishable under the Revised Penal Code and other special laws.

Meanwhile, the children shall be provided counseling and, if necessary, be accorded other proper interventions.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), together with the Department of Education (DepEd) and other concerned agencies, shall formulate and implement a comprehensive program to promote positive and non-violent discipline.

The agencies shall further conduct a continuing information dissemination campaign nationwide on how to practice positive discipline.

In addition, the DSWD and other concerned agencies shall provide assistance to victims and ensure delivery of intervention programs.