About 42 million Filipino children do not have full legal protection from all forms of violence, particularly in places where they should feel safe, such as their own homes.
According to a report by Save the Children Philippines, the country joins 134 other nations that have no legislation in place to curb physical and humiliating punishment against children.
The report highlights the story of Dahlia (not her real name), a girl from Parañaque who suffered abuse from her mother and stepfather. Dahlia’s mother would burn her arm with a mosquito coil for household chores left undone, while her stepfather strangled her for playing her radio loudly. She eventually ran away and became pregnant at 16.
Dahlia’s case is just one of many similar cases of child abuse in the country.
The Philippine government is expected to provide protection and security for the most vulnerable members of society, especially children.
However, the country has yet to pass a policy on the protection of children against physical and humiliating punishment, as an agreed target among member-nations to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals of 2015.
Save the Children Philippines CEO Atty. Alberto Muyot calls for the passing of “The Positive Parenting of Children’s Act” (Senate Bill 2036), authored by Hon. Risa Hontiveros in the Senate.
The proposed bill aims to assist Filipino parents in adopting parenting methods that align with healthy child development and effective parenting. It also seeks to ensure that the rights of children are respected, including their right to a life free from all forms of violence.
Physical and humiliating punishment of children often happens at the hands of parents, teachers, and caregivers. Save the Children explains that only one in seven children globally are protected by laws against physical and humiliating punishment, which is the most common form of violence against children.
Such punishments can include smacking, kicking, shaking, burning, forcing children to stay in uncomfortable positions, and other forms of humiliating treatment that belittle the child.
The Philippines must take concrete steps to protect its children from violence, especially in the home.