THE United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulate that States Parties “shall take all appropriate measures to protect the child from all forms of violence (Article 19).” States Parties are also required to “take all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child’s human dignity and in conformity with the present Convention. (Article 28(2)).
In line with this, the Department of Education issued DepEd Order No. 40 s.2012 also known as the Child Protection Policy to promote a zero-tolerance policy for any act of child abuse, exploitation, violence, discrimination, bullying, and other related offenses.
Under this order, included among the prohibited acts is corporal punishment which is defined in the UN Committee on the Rights of Child General Comment No. 8 “as any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light.”
The common forms of corporal punishment are hitting (smacking, slapping, spanking) children, with the hand or with an implement -- a whip, stick, belt, shoe, wooden spoon, etc. It can also involve, for example, kicking, shaking or throwing children, scratching, pinching, biting, pulling hair or boxing ears, forcing children to stay in uncomfortable positions, burning, scolding or forced ingestion (for example, washing children’s mouths out with soap or forcing them to swallow hot spices).
Studies have revealed that physical punishment cause detrimental effects on the over-all being of a person and cause negative outcomes throughout childhood and into adulthood. “It increases children’s risks for increased aggression, increased delinquency and anti-social behavior, physical injury and reports to child welfare, poorer parent-child relationships, and poorer mental health (Gershoff, 2002). It is also associated with lower self-esteem and poorer academic success.”
As an alternative, positive discipline is highly encouraged both at home and in schools. As it is an approach that respects children’s rights to healthy development and protection from violence, it provides a nurturing and happy environment for children to develop into sound and lucid human persons.
Enforcing positive discipline to kids involves providing warmth and respecting their developmental levels, being sensitive to their academic and social needs, and empathizing with their emotions and the situations they may be facing. Examples of showing warmth are listening to them, showing them respect even when they make mistakes, encouraging them especially when they are having difficulties and looking at things from their point of view.
Positive discipline is also providing structure which is done by providing opportunities to fix their mistakes in a way that helps them to learn, hearing their point of view, controlling your anger, teaching them about the effects of their actions on other people, involving them in setting rules, explaining the reasons for rules, and being a good role model to them.
Let us always remember that as parents, guardians, or teachers of children, they look up to us as their models. This means that how we behave and how we respond to their actions will affect them positively or negatively.