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Author Topic: Small Steps to Big Changes: An Open Letter on Corporal Punishment  (Read 987 times)

Artemis 1920

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To all Filipino parents and parental figures,

Let’s face it — parenting is no easy feat. It’s not just about providing a roof over the heads of your children, putting food in their stomachs, paying for their education, or being the person who guides them in school. It’s a lifelong process of constant monitoring, teaching, caring, and disciplining; and parenting isn’t limited to biological parents alone — this can be anyone with the capacity and eligibility to look after a child until he/she can be old enough to decide for himself/herself. From the moment a child has been your responsibility to nurture and raise, you take up the challenge of doing all these for their well-being. How you treat them and regulate their behavior follow certain patterns and precepts that are widely accepted in the society which you belong in. Family is the basic unit of society, making it the core and foundation of every child’s morals, values, and personality as a whole and you cannot deny that the Filipino culture plays a big role in how you bring up your children and the phenomenon of corporal punishment.

Corporal punishment, whether performed at home or in school, has become a challenging issue that needs to be tackled, especially by individuals such as yourselves, which can bring up the question of: “Is corporal punishment constructive or destructive?” — But first, what is corporal punishment? According to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2006), corporal punishment is “any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light.” Some common methods of corporal punishment include spanking, slapping, pinching, paddling, and hitting with an object.

Corporal punishment is widely used within the home. Researches done by WorldSAFE (2004) and Fry (2016) suggest that physical discipline is frequently used in the Filipino homes, making it an undeniable norm. Its usage can be attributed to the parent’s desire to discipline their child to the best of their abilities and acquired knowledge. However, behind this noble desire, the normative use of corporal punishment, according to Smith (2005) with her compilation of social science research, presents a variety of adverse effects: poorer relationships (within and outside the family), decreased moral internalisation, increased delinquent behaviour, decreased child mental health (anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation), and increased adult aggression and violence. These effects were to be found as a result of a perceived flaw of corporal punishment: the fact that it doesn’t teach the child the whys of the wrongdoing. This makes it such that the child isn’t able to fully comprehend what is actually wrong with what they did, preventing them from further reflecting on the situation — impairing their future judgement, and ultimately, their development.

Amidst the prevalence of the use of corporal punishment in the family setting, you can ascertain that educational institutions in the Philippines are no longer widely practicing corporal punishment on students as a form of discipline. In fact, Philippines is one of those 128 countries in the world in which corporal punishment in schools has been outlawed in the recent years. This is certainly true when you read the Department of Education’s initiatives towards the use of positive and non-violent ways of discipline on transforming the students into better individuals and members of society.

The implementation of the DepEd Order No. 40, s. 2012 consisting of policies and guidelines on protecting children in school from violence, exploitation, discrimination, bullying and other forms of abuse entitled “DepEd Child Protection Policy” can help you realize the significance of the shift from the traditional form of physical punishment to the use of appropriate measures to be taken in which the latter ensures that the human dignity and rights of every individual are being considered in the administration of the actions to be done by the school officials, the “parental figures” in this case. This change in the form of discipline recognizes the idea that the power invested to authoritative figures has ceased to function like a property that can be taken advantage of and has started to be exercised in a way that it serves as a strategy designed to make a group of students and people in general to operate in a proper way.

Here, we can see that teachers, the “second parents” of children in schools, also have the authority and responsibility towards the character development and learning process of your children. Acting as the substitute parents or guardians to your children, school administrators have the duties and responsibilities to fulfill in accordance with Article 218 of the Family Code of the Philippines that they must “exercise special parental authority and responsibility over your children under their supervision, instruction and custody.” This goes to show that the second parents of your children are on the belief that acquiring responsibility over your children should be of great importance on the protection of their physical, mental and emotional state, thus putting an end to corporal punishment and already adhering to what is considered legal in the modern world.

The question now is “Why do parents use it as a method of discipline?”

It really boils down to the culture we are immersed in and the one we practice every day. The notion that culture holds a considerably impactful role is even recognised in research. Some examples are researches done by Lansford and Dodge (2005; 2008), a trend was found that in countries such as the Philippines where corporal punishment is normative: the adverse effects are moderated by the normative culture. However, despite the moderation, the said effects still persist, such as anxiety, child aggression, and interpersonal violence. Delving into the culture, according to Alampay (2014), the notion of family as the center of the Filipinos’ universe characterizes our collectivist nature. We strongly value, prioritize, and enrich strong relational bonds, especially within our families, wherein you have more superiority over us children. From birth until a child is old enough to decide for his own, his actions and primary knowledge about things are highly dependent on their environment. They are expected to follow the things he is taught without analyzing whether it’s just, equal, or right. Basic respect for one’s fellow man or kapwa guides our behavior and our core values are rooted to this concept. For example, we engage in pakikisama or avoiding conflict and adjusting to others as a way of respecting them. We also emphasize on having utang na loob, most often towards you because of the sacrifices you’ve made which lead us to have to honor familial obligations. Not only this, but hiya is also a value that we consider to be of great importance. A child’s achievements or failures reflect on the family which is why it is imperative that we behave in ways that exemplify filial piety and not bring about shame or loss of face to you or to the group. These Filipino values are what drive some, if not most of you to practice authoritarian attitudes and consequently physical force as a means of punishment for unacceptable behavior — that which is not for the greater good of the family.

These associations of culture in upbringing a child calls for misunderstanding of the intention to discipline. The perception of being over and above children as you are the ones who are older and, perhaps “wiser,” we tend to accept the pain and the emotional baggage out of compliance and not out of unconditional gesture. Punishing us makes us feel that something went wrong without actually knowing why we were wrong and how we can make it right. All we know is that you are the ones looking after us and being older allows you to know better; so we should follow or else, another wave of pain is coming to get us. According to Ong et. al (2008), children are born without the sense of right and wrong, and therefore tend to accept what they are taught. You are yet to strengthen the character, mold the mind, and establish values for them, and whatever it is you give them is what they will accept. You mean well when you constantly say you want to drive us away from bad behavior. The intention is good, but we’re afraid the method of achieving the goal of correcting is the other way around. What’s worse is that punishing can make one’s temper loose that they find it hard to tolerate behavior and make corporal punishment the primary way to release anger. This leads to inconsistency since the disciplinary action is highly reliant on the emotions (Popcak, 2004). The threat of being blinded by these emotions defeats the purpose or the reason why the child needs to be disciplined.

We must all recognize that corporal punishment, more often than not, instills fear and not respect in children. These two do not equate to each other which is why this violent and cruel approach must be changed. Perhaps you are thinking of what could possibly replace corporal punishment as a tool for disciplining your children. We believe that verbal reprimands are a more acceptable form of discipline. Not merely any verbal reprimand, as this could entail emotional abuse. Rather, we mean the kind where it is made clear to us why our actions or behavior are inappropriate. Punishment is so often carried out that some of you tend to forget that the goal of the process is for us to understand what we did wrong and how to not commit the same mistake again. You have to realize that establishing a clear link between the deed and the punishment is necessary for our comprehension. It is not physical force that we require to learn to obey and respect others. What we need is guidance, your guidance, as role models we look up to. By merely reprimanding us and firmly and justly explaining the reasoning behind this decision, we are able to learn the truth of our actions and behavior. You may think that it is a longer process and is not as immediate as, say, hitting or slapping us, but it would have better effects in the end.

We are yet to be in your shoes and have a fair share of the struggles of parenting, but as children, we believe that corporal punishment could do more harm than good to every child’s well-being. This is why we are writing to you to propose that corporal punishment is not the only way to discipline us and should not even be an option in the first place. We know that many Filipinos across different generations have been a product of this disciplinary approach, but it is no reason or excuse for corporal punishment to persist. The change we are suggesting cannot happen overnight; but we believe that by starting small, such as changing your mindset to the practices of modern times, where authoritativeness seems to be the best approach to parenting and children are given more freedom and independence. Together, we can gradually work towards changing the parenting and child-rearing culture of all Filipinos. This in turn, could lead to better outcomes for your children and the generations to come.

So we hope you find the will to keep your hangers in your closets, your slippers beneath your feet, your belts on your pants, and your hands to yourselves. These are their rightful places — not on your children’s bodies. They have their corresponding uses — not for correcting their behavior. Acting upon what needs to be corrected is easier said than done and can be scary as the result from this change is a blind curve, but trying to make a bold step for a good intention, regardless of what may come, is an opportunity for progress. We don’t believe in miracles, but we believe in you and the love for family of all Filipinos.

Sincerely,
Concerned Filipino Children

Works Cited
Alampay, L. (2014). Parenting in the Philippines. In H. Selin (Ed.), Parenting Across Cultures: Childrearing, Motherhood, and Fatherhood in Non-Western Cultures (pp. 105–121). Springer. doi: 10.1007/978–94–007–7503–9_9
Fry, D., Juban, N., Hernandez, S., Madrid, B., Balanon, F., Norton-Staal, S., Ardivilla, M., Munoz, M., & Coppens, L. (2016). A Systematic Literature Review of the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children: the Philippines. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/philippines/media/501/file/National%20Baseline%20Study%20on%20Violence%20Against%20Children%20in%20the%20Philippines:%20Systematic%20literature%20review%20of%20drivers%20of%20violence%20affecting%20children%20.pdf.
Liego, M. (2012, May 4). What You Need to Know About DepEd Child Protection Policy. TeacherPH. Retrieved November 13, 2019, from https://www.teacherph.com/deped-child-protection-policy/.
Ong, M., Domingo, J., & Balanon, F. (2008) A Time for Change: Ending All Forms of Corporal Punishment of Children. Save the Children Sweden. Retrieved from https://resourcecentre.savethechildren.net/node/4895/pdf/4895.pdf.
Popcak, G. (2004, February 22). Ten Reasons I Can’t Spank. free Republic. Retrieved November 15, 2019, from http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1082989/posts.
Sadowski, L., Hunter, W., Bangdiwala, S., Muñoz, S. (2004). “The World Studies of Abuse in the Family Environment (WorldSAFE): a Model of a Multi-National Study of Family Violence.” Injury Control and Safety Promotion, vol. 11, no. 2, 2004, pp. 81–90., doi:10.1080/15660970412331292306.


About the authors:
Artemis is the collective pseudonym of F. Agutaya, T. Magtibay, J. Pacheco, and H. Pulido. They are currently first year students studying in the University of the Philippines.

Disclaimer: Views, opinions and thoughts expressed in this project belong solely to the authors, and not necessarily the authors’ educational institution, organization, committee and other groups, societies, and individuals.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2019, 10:01:44 pm by Artemis 1920 »
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Alena Kanta

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Re: Small Steps to Big Changes: An Open Letter on Corporal Punishment
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2019, 09:46:46 pm »

I am a parent who doesn't believe in corporal punishments so I agree with your open letter. My husband and I raised our child with the view that we can bring her up to be an upright and respectful person without resorting to hitting or any physical means of discipline. I cannot find it in my heart to lift one finger to hurt my child regardless of her wrong actions or misbehavior and looking at her now in her college years, striving hard in one of the best universities in the country, gives me that good feeling that we have done right by her.
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Parentchat Admin

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Re: Small Steps to Big Changes: An Open Letter on Corporal Punishment
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2019, 11:43:06 am »

Read it on Smart Parenting:
Is Spanking an Effective Discipline Method? Pediatricians Say No

Click this link:
https://www.smartparenting.com.ph/parenting/real-parenting/3-out-of-4-pediatricians-do-not-approve-of-spanking-children-a00026-20180628?ref=parentchat
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