I learned only recently that House Bill 4455, or the Positive and Non-Violent Discipline of Children Act, is currently with the Senate after having been approved by the House of Representatives. This proposed law, in my humble opinion, is too much.
It has been referred as anti-corporal punishment bill, which is not exactly accurate because it defines “corporal punishment” as referring to cruel and unusual punishment that subject the child to indignities and other excessive chastisement that embarrasses or humiliates the child, including, but not limited to, “verbal abuse, or assaults including intimidation or threat of bodily harm, swearing or cursing, ridiculing or denigrating the child” and “making a child look foolish which tends to belittle or humiliate the child in front of others.”
These acts do not exactly fall into the traditional definition of corporal punishment. The open-ended definition of what is “corporal punishment” lends itself to abuse. It is overbroad. Despite the expressed intent of protecting the child, by itself the subject of numerous laws that sorely need effective implementation, it appears to be an unwarranted intrusion into the parenting prerogative.
Even if the the anti-corporal punishment limits itself to excessive physical punishments, this does not make it less objectionable. The intent is definitely good. But we already have so many laws protecting the child, including Republic Act No. 7610 (Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act) and Republic Act 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004). Punish any act of “corporal punishment” which constitutes a violation of these laws but do not criminalize corporal punishment per se.
There’s a delicate balance between parental authority, including the right of parents to discipline their children, and the power of the State to protect children. There are bad parents, to be sure, but the State should learn to trust its parent-citizens.