Positive Parenting Bill - the perfect gift for Filipino children, say advocacy groups

Positive Parenting Bill - the perfect gift for Filipino children, say advocacy groups

by Nicole Pineda, PMFI Intern, UP Journalism Student

August 1, 2023

Only after Hilda adopted positive parenting in her family could she foster a more close-knit relationship with her daughter, Hyacinth. Chancing upon a parenting seminar a few years back, Hilda learned the importance of a more gentle and less strenuous approach to parenting and dealing with conflict.

“As time went by, as I implemented the parenting techniques I learned in the seminar, I noticed that [Hyacinth] would approach me and talk to me more. We fought less, and I found myself not needing to shout at her.”

For stories like these, advocate groups are calling for continuous support for the Positive Parenting Bill that is currently filed in the House of Representatives.

Representative Angelica Natasha Co of the BHW Partylist and chairperson of the House Committee on the Welfare of Children Parents, authored a bill to promote positive, non-violent parenting in Filipino households.

A recent media briefing organized by Child Rights Network, Save the Children Philippines, Consuelo Foundation, Probe Media Foundation, ChildFund Philippines, and Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development addressed notable features of the bill and highlighted various points of discussion.

These advocate groups hope its progress will continue into the Senate and Congress.

“I was exposed to the traditional Filipino parenting style, which involves physical punishment,” explains Aira, a 16-year-old youth advocate. “I used to be terrified of them and anxious to avoid making any mistakes at all.” “When positive parenting was introduced through an activity, I became more open with my parents. Our relationship got better, and I started to feel more safe and loved by my family,” Aira added.

In the Philippines, three out of five children experience physical and psychological violence in the home setting, according to the 2016 National Baseline Study on the Violence Against Children. The study also reported that less than 10% said that corporal punishment and physical discipline had “no effect” on them as adults.

The Positive Parenting Bill seeks to protect children from degrading, hurtful forms of punishment and to promote positive discipline in homes, institutions, and alternative care systems.

“We want the children to grow up self-confident and kind, where they model the kindness shown by their parents or caregivers,” Rep. Co says.

Positive discipline emphasizes growth and learning through open communication, mutual respect, and patience rather than focusing on the child’s mistakes or misbehaviors. The approach allows families to strengthen their bonds and promote a safer environment for the child.

“The proposed law is geared towards a more holistic and inclusive approach involving parents and caregivers in the process,” explained child advocate Allan Nuñez. “It does not impose a hard and fast manner of managing households but instead seeks to help parents and caregivers in exploring options for proper child-rearing to avoid inflicting violence against children,” Nuñez continued.

Aside from child protection, the bill also highlights opportunities for local communities to hold capacity-building seminars to develop positive parenting practices and effective communication between parents and children.

The DSWD and DILG are expected to play a vital role in applying this proposed law. Both in its execution of comprehensive programs and intervention for when cases arise, Co explained in an interview.

The bill aims to fill the gaps and support existing laws such as the Child and Youth Welfare Code, Special Protection of Children against Abuse, and the Family Code of the Philippines.

Partylist Rep. Bernadette Herrera had also filed a similar bill in the House. The House of Representatives deliberated on the proposal last July 31 and intends to pass a consolidated version in its next committee hearing.

If this passes into a law, the Philippines will become the first country in Southeast Asia that provides protection for children from violent forms of discipline.