Editorial: Making parents accountable

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Sunday, March 2, 2014


CAN CPR save bad parents?

Also known as the Code of Parental Responsibility (CPR), City Ordinance 538 Series 2014 was enacted by the Mandaluyong City Council this February.

According to its author, Councilor Charisse Abalos, the CPR emphasizes the shared responsibility of parents and the state to raise children to become good citizens.

While the government creates programs promoting the welfare of children, Abalos also stressed parents’ responsibility to provide them with “full care and guidance,” reported Yahoo! News Philippines on Feb. 16.

Abalos said that Mandaluyong City, despite being the most child-friendly local government in the country, struggles with school dropouts and teenage mothers, cases that can be traced to parental neglect.

Debate

This ordinance is stirring debate beyond Mandaluyong, with advocates of good parenting urging the adoption of similar measures in other cities.

Some Mandaluyong parents criticize the ordinance for punishing them for “neglecting” children they have limited supervision of due to conflicts of schedule and the independent, liberal culture among today’s youths.

Adopting some features of the Family Code of the Philippines, the CPR prohibits and penalizes parents for abandoning their children; not educating them according to their status and finances; directly or indirectly exploiting children, such as forcing them to beg; inflicting cruel and unusual punishment; letting children handle or carry deadly weapons; allowing them to use alcoholic drinks, narcotic drugs and cigarettes; and letting children ride a motorcycle without standard protective gear.

Under the CPR, parents are also liable if they send their children on an errand to buy cigarettes or alcoholic drinks. Parents should not also force children to sell cigarettes.

Yahoo! News Philippines quoted Abalos as saying that exposing children to parental vices makes them vulnerable to experimenting early with smoking, drinking and using narcotics.

Shared burden

Recent news have focused on the involvement of parents in cybertrafficking and Webcam Child Sex Tourism (WCST). In Cordova and other cities where parents and guardians are directly involved in the online sex trade cottage industry exploiting children and youths, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice will charge apprehended suspects with at least three laws: Republic Act (RA) 9208 (Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act), RA 7610 (Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act), and RA 9775 (Anti-Child Pornography Act).

While RA 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012) counts WCST as a cybercrime, the implementing rules and regulations will still be drafted before the law can be implemented.

However, aside from WCST, there are other incidents involving the apathy and abuse of parents and guardians, which put children and youths in conflict with the law.

The failure of adults to act with responsibility also endangers minors, such as several incidents of “home-alone deaths” in Cebu, where children left alone in a locked room or house accidentally start a fire. While authorities said they will investigate if the parents were guilty of neglect when they willfully left their children alone at home, no charges have been filed for “humanitarian” reasons.

For the Mandaluyong City Council, parents must be held accountable for any failure to put their children’s welfare first, whether it is to require minors to heed the curfew or avail themselves of free education or health programs provided by the state.

Critics say that the chief challenge of CPR is implementing it. For local governments that want parents and guardians to share joint responsibility and authority over their children, mandating good parenting may only require political will.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 03, 2014.

Opinion

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