Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for a ban on spanking as a disciplinary tool. Its updated policy on spanking cites the long-term, harmful effects of corporal punishment on children. With mounting evidence that show the negative effects of spanking as a method to correct behavior, it’s more important than ever to promote positive discipline strategies not just in the home but in schools and institutions as well.
The Positive Discipline Advocates of the Philippines (PDAP), which is composed of teachers and school officials and advocate groups, agrees. The group has teamed up with Save the Children and Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) to push for the legislation of the bill "Promoting Positive and Non-Violent Ways to Discipline Filipino Children," which is currently on its third and final reading at the Senate and on its second reading at the House of Representatives.
“PDAP believes that as ‘second parents’, teachers and educators play an important role in fulfilling the right of children to protection, specifically in ensuring that they are disciplined in a positive manner,” the group said in a statement.
Positive discipline is opposed to any pain — physical, emotional, and psychological — inflicted on children when correcting behavior. Studies have shown that discipline methods like corporal punishment can lead to aggression, delinquency, and mental health problems in children.
According to a report by the WorldSAFE Project by UNICEF, 76% of children aged 2 to 14 have experienced some form of violent discipline at home. In the Philippines, 83% of Filipino kids have experienced physical discipline (spanking on the buttocks is the most common punishment).
According to the National Baseline Study on Violence Against Children, which was conducted by Save the Children in 2015, physical violence like corporal punishment is one of the most common forms of violence against children in the Philippines. Three in 5 children experience physical violence at home while 1 in 5 children experience it in school.
A positive approach can greatly help students who may be struggling academically, according to Zaida Padullo, a senior high school principal and PDAP founder. “If a student is treated aggressively, the student would rebel. But if treated with empathy, compassion, and understanding, they would open up and unload their real problems,” she said in a press conference.
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Save the Children suggests the taking these steps to discipline a child, keeping his rights in mind:
Two-way communication — talking and listening
Giving the child a voice
Engaging the child in problem-solving
Respecting the child’s humanity, individuality, and dignity
Though some parents were raised in a culture where spanking and kneeling on salt or mongo seeds is common, it doesn’t mean that they should employ the same discipline strategies on their children. “Not every child has the same coping mechanism when it comes to pain,” shares Marichu Belarmino of PETA. “Some people who underwent corporal punishment might have turned out fine but some have not. It is dangerous for children to equate love with pain as it gives precedence to future abuse that they might go through. It will only be an endless cycle of abuse.”
She adds, “We need to find better ways to show children that love does not hurt. Ultimately, we need to find ways to become better parents.”