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Ending All Forms of CORPORAL PUNISHMENT of Children

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Corporal Punishment in the Philippines

Save the Children

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Jan Christian Chu, 7

Save the Children 1 Corporal Punishment in the Philippines

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Ending All Forms of CORPORAL PUNISHMENT of Children

Save the Children fights for children's rights. We deliver immediate and lasting improvements to children's lives worldwide. Save the Children works for: · a world that respects and values children · a world where all children participate and have influence · a world where all children have hope and opportunity ISBN 978-971-93522-9-7 ©2008 Save the Children Sweden

PROJECT LEADER: Save the Children Sweden WRITTEN by: Psychosocial Support and Children's Rights Resource Center (PST CRRC)

Michelle G. Ong, Joy Domingo and Faye G. Balanon

PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT: Minerva C. Cabilles and Carolina Francisco EDITOR: Alwin Aguirre BOOK DESIGN and ILLUSTRATIONS: Ariel G. Manuel PUBLISHED by: Save the Children Sweden

Save the Children Sweden 3/F OMT Building, 71 Scout Tuazon Street, Brgy. South Triangle 1103 Quezon City, Philippines TEL: (632) 372 3483 FAX: (632) 372 3484 EMAIL: [email protected] WEBSITE: http://www.rb.se/eng/ http://seap.savethechildren.se/en/South_East_Asia/

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Booklet

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Corporal Punishment in the Philippines

Now is the time to stop the violence. Corporal Punishment in the Filipino Home

DISCIPLINE is recognised by both parents and children as an important element in

child-rearing. However, the most common means used to discipline children in the Filipino home is corporal punishment. A study on corporal punishment in the Philippines conducted by Save the Children United Kingdom in 20051 reveals that punishment is most commonly experienced by children inside the home (85%) and that the most common type of punishment is spanking (65%). Aside from this, a majority of the children interviewed (82%) also reported that they had been hit on different parts of their bodies. The World Report on Violence and Health in 2002 confirmed these findings. It reported that 75% of Filipino children who participated in the study said that they had been spanked.2 In terms of verbal or emotional punishment, yelling or screaming was the most common form. Eighty-two percent (82%) of Filipino mothers interviewed admitted to having shouted at their children, while almost half (48%) said that they have threatened their children with abandonment.3 Community studies also generated evidence that physical and emotional maltreatment of children is widespread. In 2005, the majority (83%) of 2,704 adolescents randomly "Konting galit ko lang, konting kasalanan, parang kailangan ko siyang paluin, parang iyon ang tamang disiplina. Kasi parang yun din ang kinagisnan ko sa mga lolo't lola ko, sa nanay ko, na ang pamamalo ay isang pagdidisiplina... Hindi pa naman siguro late para baguhin yung mga nakagisnan na mali."

Helen, parent (When I get a little bit upset, at the smallest mistake, I feel like I have to spank [my child], because I thought that it is the right way to discipline her. That's what I learned from my grandparents, from my mother, that spanking is discipline... I don't think it's too late to change our old mistaken ways.)

Corporal Punishment in the Philippines

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Ending All Forms of CORPORAL PUNISHMENT of Children

selected for a nationwide community survey admitted that they had been physically maltreated, while more than half (60%) received psychological insults and debasement.4 This mirrors the results of an earlier survey of 2,550 Filipino school children from urban and rural communities, which revealed that the top abuses experienced by children are verbal abuse (70 %), physical maltreatment (60.7%), and emotional, non-verbal abuse (45.8%; ).5 While data from the two studies do not make specific mention of reported cases involving corporal punishment, the findings point to the high incidence of physical maltreatment of children. Results also highlight verbal and emotional forms of maltreatment both of which are largely invisible in government statistics and reports. In 2006, physical maltreatment registered only 10 percent of child abuse cases handled by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD 2006) while emotional abuse was not existent at all. This is probably because incidences of emotional abuse are seldom reported, if at all, and especially if not accompanied by physical maltreatment or sexual abuse. Studies, however, have shown that verbal and emotional abuses also have significant impact on children. A survey done with Filipino students on experiences of parental verbal abuse revealed that emotional, degrading and psychological forms of punishment resulted in low self-worth, depression, displaced anger and aggression among children.6

Why does corporal punishment persist from generation to generation?

1.Cultural beliefs that reinforce punishment. There are

cultural beliefs and expectations about children that influence the use of punishment. For example, parents who believe that children only

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Ending All Forms of CORPORAL PUNISHMENT of Children

understand the language of pain are more likely to use corporal punishment. Some other beliefs that support corporal punishment are discussed below.

Parents believe that children are born without a sense of right and wrong, and have no self-control. They believe that punishment is the most effective

means of ensuring that the child develops a sense of right and wrong. Children are thought to be born naturally wilful and unruly. They do not yet understand rules and boundaries and must therefore be taught those. They have no knowledge of the world and are unable to think and make correct decisions by themselves. These beliefs lead some parents to conclude that control must be established externally and through physical means. This way, children--especially the younger ones-- would understand more clearly what is right and wrong than if parents simply try to explain them. By inflicting pain, parents believe that they are teaching their children what not to do and what to avoid.

Why does corporal punishment persist from generation to generation?

Adults/parents believe that they have to exercise power or authority over their children through fear and intimidation else they will not grow up to be good persons. Adults, given the responsibility of raising and guiding children,

assume power over them. They believe children are weak and have less knowledge and experience. Because of this, they judge the child's behaviour according to their notions of right and wrong, and their ideas of what is fair without even listening to the child's views. The misuse of power or authority often leads to abuse. Parents may make or break rules arbitrarily, fail to listen to their children, and use forms of discipline that do the children more harm than good.

Adults/parents believe children owe their lives to their parents. Thus, they are considered their parents' properties. In a 2005 research done by Save the

Children UK in the Philippines, many of the parents admitted to the use corporal punishment saying that it is what their own parents and grandparents practiced.

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Ending All Forms of CORPORAL PUNISHMENT of Children

They also disclosed that they themselves were punished in such manner when they were children. Some are even grateful for their own parents' harsh disciplining methods because they believe they learned from it. Consultations with parents reveal that although some of them acknowledge that the use of these disciplining techniques may hurt their children's feelings or adversely affect their relationship, they still feel that it is necessary for moulding their children to be upright and decent human beings. Nevertheless, these parents admit to feeling guilty, bad, sorry, sad, and regretful after punishing their children aside from feeling pity for and worrying about them. While older parents tend to believe that corporal punishment has helped make their children behave better, younger parents notice that its effects on their children are not what they intended and not as positive as they would have wanted. Their children have become distant, dazed, afraid and stunned. They also either become rattled upon hearing curses or have grown immune to them. A more devastating outcome of such forms of punishment would perhaps be the children's loss of respect for their parents. The same study found out that children definitely see corporal punishment as a painful experience but do not know that there are other methods of discipline. Older children even tend to justify the use of punishment. This may be an indication that as children grow to become adults themselves, they will tend to believe that corporal punishment is the proper way of teaching a child.

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Ending All Forms of CORPORAL PUNISHMENT of Children

This dilemma has driven some parents and other adults caring for children to seek other more effective ways of disciplining children. Like many of the children who have spoken on the issue, some parents also wish to discover a more rational and calmer disciplining approach. However, in practice, the use of corporal punishment for discipline and instruction remains to be a common feature of parent-child interaction in the Filipino home.

2. Lack of explicit legal prohibition on the use of corporal punishment. While there are existing laws against maltreatment, there are no

Why does corporal punishment persist from generation to generation?

clear prohibitions against the use of corporal punishment especially in the home where a lot of the violence takes place. The home, being a child's immediate environment, plays a primary role in his/her upbringing and formation. Sadly, it is also where the incidence of violence in the form of corporal punishment most often takes place. This is because corporal punishment, including humiliating punishment, remains to be a widely accepted and encouraged parenting tool. A closer look will even suggest that existing Philippine laws actually allow and provide justification for the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline particularly inside the home. An analysis of current laws and policies in the country related to discipline and punishment conducted by Save the Children United Kingdom in 2005 points to the following gaps in the present laws and policies in terms of protecting children against corporal punishment:

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Ending All Forms of CORPORAL PUNISHMENT of Children

There has to be clear guidelines that can help parents and other adults exercise their right to discipline children in a manner that will uphold children's right to dignity and physical integrity.

a. The existing restrictions on child abuse do not cover the more common forms of corporal punishment such as spanking and verbal abuse.

Article 263 of the Revised Penal Code states that parents do not have the right to cause their children physical injury from unreasonable punishment. However, by describing unacceptable punishment as those that "cause physical injury" and those that are "unreasonable," the law seems to totally exclude the types of punishment that are most common but the least visible and the least reported. Spanking, ear twitching, or hair pulling are some usual examples of such. What's more, forms of punishment that do not produce any visible signs of physical injury such as verbal abuse also go unnoticed. By doing so, the law disregards the violation of children's human dignity and self-respect in cases where no serious physical injuries are suffered. Given the

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findings of various studies showing the prevalence of these forms of punishment, a significant number of children are definitely not given full protection.

b. Cruel and unusual punishment is not clearly defined in the law and can easily be misinterpreted.

Qualifying phrases such as "moderate," "just" and "reasonable" used in referring to punishment can be interpreted in many different ways and may thus be misused. There has to be clear and explicit statements to guide parents and other adults in the exercise of their right to discipline their children. Equally crucial is the need for them to understand the importance of respecting the physical integrity and human dignity of their children. Cruelty is seen as a form of child abuse under the Special Protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act (Republic Act 7610). However, even this law also states that corporal punishment is not considered a form of cruelty so long as it is done or exercised in a reasonable way, is moderate in degree, and does not constitute physical and psychological injury. In addition, parents are only held liable for cruelty if the act of indignity is done "deliberately." This now leads us to consider the issue of intention in the exercise of corporal punishment. The law implies that if there is no intention to humiliate or embarrass, then the act of punishment or cruelty is not deliberate. Similarly, if the parents believe that the act of violence is for the benefit of the child, then it should not be considered against the law. This way of seeing the issue then renders the law ineffective in protecting both the physical integrity and dignity of the child. In addition, the Family Code and the Child and Youth Welfare Code state that "parents have the right to discipline their child as may be necessary (emphasis added)

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Why does corporal punishment persist from generation to generation?

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for the formation of his good character, and may therefore require from him obedience to just and reasonable rules, suggestions and admonitions." These qualifications further justify the use of corporal punishment in the name of discipline.

c. The law does not address the issue of corporal punishment in the home, in the family and in the work setting.

Existing laws do not have explicit prohibitions on the use of corporal punishment in the home or family setting. They actually give parents free rein to define and determine what is right or necessary, what is fair and reasonable, and what will not cause physical, psychological or emotional harm. A related matter is that no provision in the laws is directly applicable to punishment of children at work. A more direct provision prohibiting corporal, humiliating and degrading punishment of children should be enacted to cover persons who employ or supervise them at work. Although there are several penal laws that are aimed at certain acts committed on children, there remains a need to create terms that specifically ensure the child's protection at work. The law then must clearly and explicitly state that children must not be subjected to corporal punishment or any humiliating treatment such that not even a mild spank or hit is acceptable. Also, the law must always specifically uphold their dignity. This means that children are to be treated with respect for their person and individuality.

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Ending All Forms of CORPORAL PUNISHMENT of Children

d. Humiliating and degrading punishment is not covered in the general penal laws since it requires that a physical act be done to a child for it to be seen as an offence.

Statistics on violence against and abuse of children reflect mainly physical abuse and sexual abuse rather than the more prevalent emotional or verbal abuse. This is because the latter types are seldom culturally and legally defined as abuse. The law requires that a deed or physical act be committed for it to be considered an offence. Thus, we can claim that general penal laws do not cover humiliating or degrading punishment. Such may take on various forms as psychological punishment, verbal abuse, ridicule, isolation or ignoring the child--acts that do not necessarily constitute punishment of a physical nature. Indeed, humiliating or degrading punishment as those just mentioned is very common in the homes, schools, workplace, community, and care and justice institutions. The lack of laws to protect children from punishment of such forms endangers their right to dignity and self-respect. Corporal punishment is a human rights violation and cultural notions that may seem to tolerate violence do not make it acceptable. Children are entitled to the same protection as adults. It is important to ensure that under the law, children benefit from the same protection as adults do. The gaps in our laws clearly show that currently, we do not adequately legally protect children against corporal punishment. Eliminating corporal punishment of children requires, among others, addressing these identified gaps by enacting a law that will explicitly prohibit corporal punishment in all settings, especially in the home, and removing all provisions in the law that justify and

Why does corporal punishment persist from generation to generation?

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Ending All Forms of CORPORAL PUNISHMENT of Children

rationalize the use of corporal punishment. It is equally important to make sure that adults have the necessary information and support to rear and teach children in a way that respects their human dignity. At the same time, adults who interact with children and respond to their concerns should have sufficient policies and guidelines on hand to ensure the protection of children from corporal punishment in the home and in other settings.

Children's right to participation is not given proper space and consideration.

Various researches have shown what children have been saying all along: corporal punishment hurts them and they prefer to learn without the use of violence. Children share that they are seldom asked to explain their side in many situations where they make mistakes or do something their parents or teachers do not approve of. Their wish is for adults to try to understand how they feel, and listen to their opinions and ideas about how to solve problems or make better of situations. Children have the right to be involved in discussions, processes, decisions and actions that respond to their concerns including

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corporal punishment. Parents and other adults caring for children must listen to and seek out their views and opinions on matters that affect them. Service providers, policy-makers and decision-makers at the local and national level must consult children on how programmes, services, policies and decisions affect different groups of children and the ways these could be improved. Consultations as such must be done regularly and as a matter of policy and practice. Children in many parts of the world have expressed their interest in taking action to end corporal punishment. They have actually initiated efforts in their respective communities. Adults should support these initiatives and establish good working relations with children and children's groups. This will ensure that children are informed about the various endeavours and further contribute to achieve the necessary changes. Children and groups of children can be involved in monitoring changes in children's experiences of corporal punishment. Their involvement can even extend up to the assessment of programmes' and services' sufficiency and quality. They can also participate in determining and analyzing what works and what does not work in various pertinent projects. Insights gathered from children's participation could then be used to improve policies, programmes and services, especially the ones that are most relevant to them.

Why does corporal punishment persist from generation to generation?

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Ending All Forms of CORPORAL PUNISHMENT of Children

Children speak about corporal punishment

In a study conducted by Save the Children UK in the Philippines, children shared their belief that discipline is important because it helps them recognize and understand what is right from wrong, and develop appropriate attitudes that will make them better people or "mabuting tao." Discipline is essential so that children learn from their mistakes, change their attitudes, and do what is right. They also believe that it is necessary to make them grow into healthy, strong and respectful individuals. Instilling discipline, as they have come to realize, is also a manifestation of their parents' love and concern. According to these children, parents often resort to punishment in order to instil discipline. Such punishment may take the form of the ff: pagpalo sa anak (spanking), pagbugbog sa bata (beating up or mauling their children); pananampal (slapping the face), panununtok (punching), pagpapahiya sa bata sa harapan ng iba (humiliating the child in public), and pagsigaw at pagmumura ng putang ina (shouting and swearing). The children also revealed that being punished or, specifically, being hurt by people they love and trust has the following effect on them: masakit sa kasingkasing/puso/kalooban (emotionally painful), nakakalungkot (makes them sad), nakakagalit (makes them angry), and parang gustong magrebelde (makes them think about rebelling against their parents). Furthermore, the children stressed that being hurt emotionally is worse than the physical pain inflicted

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on them because emotional pain is deeper and lingers longer. It is quite alarming that though children have begun to associate punishment with hurt feelings, resentment and anger, they still believe that they deserved to be punished. To illustrate, during Focus Group Discussions with adolescent girls and boys, 13 to 17 years old, they discussed why they were punished physically and they shared that: J: Ginagawa nila yon [pagdidisiplina sa pamamagitan ng pamamalo] para mapunta kami sa tama at makatapos kami ng pag-aaral at mahal kami. Y: Tama yun para madisiplina kami, tapos minsan di kami sumusunod sa kanilang mga utos. M: Para kami ay madisplina at di malulong sa masamang bisyo. (J: They [parents] punish us to make sure that we will be good, that we will finish our studies, and because they love us. Y: That's right, they do it to discipline us because sometimes we don't listen or follow what they want. M: To discipline us and this would stop us from being mired in vices.) Violence has regrettably become an acceptable part of life for children. This is where they learn that problems and problematic behaviour can be solved through the use of force or threats, fighting and other abusive means. Despite this, children also seek for alternative ways of discipline. They believe that children are more likely to respond to correction if they know and understand what it is they have done wrong, and what they should do to correct their mistake. Counselling or discussing issues with a child proves to be a much more encouraging form of discipline. An approach as such will help children understand where they have gone wrong and make them remember more effectively the consequences of their actions and decisions. This experience would eventually teach them to be more careful so as to avoid committing the same mistake or oversight in the future. The children in the study also emphasized that they need love, affirmation and guidance from adults; and that during moments when they are being punished ­ when they are being hit or humiliated ­ they do not feel loved or cared for at all.

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Children and young people who have been working on this issue as organized groups strongly expressed their views against corporal punishment. As Lorelie Limbang, President of the Children and Youth Organization, succinctly conveys, "As a result of our participation in consultations conducted by Save the Children in the Philippines and our own discussions within our organization, we realized that we have all experienced different forms of punishment in our homes, schools and the community; and that we all feel strongly against this."

Violence does not make children understand what they have done wrong. A future without violence?

There is a real and urgent need to address the gaps in legislation regarding violence against children. There are two important reasons for this: first, laws need to be consistent with and reflect the Philippine government's commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. We have child protection laws in place; however, they fail to protect children from all forms of corporal punishment. Secondly, changing the law is imperative in order to protect all children at all times in schools, care institutions, communities, juvenile justice institutions, alternative care institutions and most especially, the home. However, changing and implementing the law is not enough. There is also a need to change beliefs and attitudes that allow for the unabated practice of corporal punishment. Likewise, beliefs and attitudes that support non-violent alternatives must be fostered. It is also indispensable to initiate and establish a more appropriate response to address corporal punishment in the home.

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Although the law is said to reflect culture, it is also true that changing the laws can create changes in attitudes and practice. For proof we look to Sweden, which, on July 1, 1979, was the first state to explicitly ban corporal punishment of children by all caregivers, including parents. When the ban was implemented, it was intended to be educational rather than punitive. Supporting mechanisms were put in place to assist parents with child management difficulties and learn about alternative methods of discipline. In the Philippines, there exists a need to revise existing laws for the full protection of children from violence. Any kind, degree, and frequency of corporal punishment are violence against children and should be redefined culturally and legally as unacceptable and unreasonable. There is still a need to amend laws to specifically prohibit corporal punishment and humiliating and degrading punishment within the family. A generation of Swedish youth has grown up without corporal punishment. A study of the results of the ban 20 years after it was implemented serves to enlighten us of the gains from prohibiting corporal punishment:

A future without violence?

· There has been a marked decline in public support for corporal punishment in Sweden, from 53%

in 1965 to 11% in 1999. For younger parents (defined as those 35 years of age or below), there was only 6% agreement for the use of corporal punishment.

· A 1994 study of 13-15 year-olds, who were young children when the ban was implemented,

showed that only 3% reported receiving slaps from parents, and only 1% reported being hit by implements.

· No Swedish child died of physical abuse in the 1980s. Of four child murders between 1990 and

1996, only one was at the hands of a parent.

· There has been a decrease in the number of children coming into the care of social workers. Those

who have come into care are for short-term placements only.

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· Fears of children growing up undisciplined and without self-control are unfounded. In fact, youth crime rates

have remained steady since 1983 while drug abuse, alcohol intake, and suicide rates have decreased. It may be concluded from Sweden's experience that attitude change follows government commitment to non-use of corporal punishment. It also demonstrates that young people who grow up without corporal punishment appear to function much more adaptively in society. It is hoped that this example paves the way for greater commitment to and action towards legislative change in support of a complete ban on corporal punishment in all settings. If the Philippines passed a law that explicitly bans all forms of corporal punishment of children, it will be the first country in Southeast Asia to do so.

Notes

1 Save the Children Sweden (2005). "National Research on the Physical and Emotional Punishment of Children in the Philippines." Unpublished manuscript. Quezon City, Philippines. 2 World Health Organization (2002). World Report on Violence and Health. Edited by E. G. Krug, L. L. Dahlberg, J. A. Mercy, A. B. Zwi and R. Lozano. Geneva, page 63. 3 Ibid., page 65. 4 Department of Health ­ National Health Institute 2003. 5 Laurie Serquina-Ramiro; Bernadette J. Madrid; Ma. Lourdes E. Amarillo, 1998. Domestic Violence in Urban Filipino Families. Asian Centre for Women's Studies, Ewha Womans University Press. 6 Esther Esteban (2006). "Parental Verbal Abuse: Culture-Specific Coping Behaviour of College Students in the Philippines," Child Psychiatry and Human Development, Vol. 36, No. 3, (March 2006) pp. 243-259.

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