Parenting and child rights advocates are calling on the State and the Legislature to support Filipino parents in adopting Positive Parenting, an implementable parenting approach consisting of proven strategies to strengthen family bonds and foster positive child development.
“A lot of parents are actually just needing support to shift away from using physical and psychological punishment in disciplining their children, as it does more harm than good. We have a bill specifically addressing this, wherein the State will support Filipino parents in practicing a more effective method of discipline, which is Positive Parenting,” said Representative Angelica Natasha Co, BHW Partylist representative and chairperson of the House Committee on the Welfare of Children.
In a briefing with the media, parent and child rights advocates shared how they practice Positive Parenting by using tried and tested strategies, such as regulating their emotions, being good role models, and establishing long-term parenting goals.
“As a Filipino parent, Positive Parenting has helped me understand the value of reasoning and create a nurturing environment at home. Discipline is anchored on trust, respect, active listening, and journeying with my daughters,” said Edwin Horca, a Positive Parenting advocate from Save the Children Philippines.
“There is a constant struggle to “use the stick” to immediately get what I want. I learned to discipline myself, pause, not act in anger, find out the cause of one’s action, and say the right message at the right time. Positive Parenting is applying reason, spirituality, values, and loving kindness,” Mr. Horca added.
During the briefing, advocates highlighted the effects of Positive Parenting, which studies have shown to correlate with high self-esteem and a positive self-concept in children. They stressed that it increases the likelihood of better mental health and academic performance. Additionally, Positive Parenting fosters open communication with parents, serving as a catalyst for many more positive outcomes, including easier conflict resolution and strengthened family bonds.
“Physical or humiliating punishment most often produces anger, resentment, and low self-esteem among children. It also teaches the child that violence is an acceptable behavior and a solution to problems, thus perpetuating itself as children imitate the actions of adults,” said Representative Bernadette Herrera, Bagong Henerasyon Partylist representative, author of a similar measure, and a long-time advocate and practitioner herself for non-violent means of child discipline.
“The Positive Parenting Bill is a piece of legislation that acknowledges that positive change starts at home. Many of our problems today can be addressed when we provide a nurturing and constructive environment for our children,” Rep. Herrera added.
“This is why the passage of the Positive Parenting Bill is so important. It strengthens the basic unit of our society–the Filipino family–and has a ripple effect on positive human development and nation-building,” shared Romeo Dongeto, Convenor of the Child Rights Network (CRN) and Executive Director of the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development, noting that CRN, the largest alliance of child rights advocates, have made the passage of this bill a top priority.
Rep. Co also shared that through the Positive Parenting Bill, the DSWD and the DILG will be mandated to develop a comprehensive program in collaboration with various government agencies to promote Positive Parenting. This includes prevention and response programs, as well as nationwide information dissemination campaigns aimed at parents, local government officials, law enforcement, and teachers. Additionally, capacity-building programs will also be extended to barangay personnel and service providers engaged in implementing the law.
“If passed into law, it is the perfect gift for the Filipino children. It aligns with the nationwide consultations and consensus-building held to support the drafting of this bill. Filipino children themselves desire positive change in their homes and seek closer connections with their families, without the use of physical or humiliating punishment,” said Atty. Albert Muyot, CEO of Save the Children Philippines, an organization that has long advocated for the shift to Positive Parenting.
“Positive Parenting has enhanced our family’s relationship. I was exposed to the traditional Filipino parenting style, which involves physical punishment, as I was my parents’ first child. It undoubtedly altered the way I view my parents. I used to be terrified of them and anxious to avoid making any mistakes at all,” said Aira, a 15-year-old youth advocate from the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), a theater group advocating for positive social change.
“When Positive Parenting was introduced through a PETA activity, I was able to be open with my parents. Our relationship got better and I started to feel safer and more loved by my family,” she added.
According to the 2016 National Baseline Study on Violence Against Children conducted by the Philippine government, 3 out of 5 children in the Philippines experience physical violence, often in the home setting. Additionally, the study found that 3 out of 5 children have endured psychological violence in the form of verbal abuse, threats, and threat of abandonment by their parents.
Advocates also stressed that passing the Positive Parenting Bill is a fulfillment of the Philippines’ international commitments on children’s rights, particularly the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its General Comment (an interpretation of the treaty), which recommends that such policies be legislated.
“The proposed law is geared towards a more holistic and inclusive approach involving parents and caregivers in the process. 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. One way the law will do this is by encouraging parents and caregivers to participate in community-level seminars on Positive Parenting and anger management to help them learn more effective and practical approaches to child discipline which they can apply in everyday life,” said Allan Nuñez, Advocacy Specialist of ChildFund Philippines, an organization actively seeking to pass the Positive Parenting Bill.
Presently, two versions of the bill are filed in the House of Representatives – House Bill No. 8306, authored by Rep. Angelica Natasha Co, and House Bill No. 1269, authored by Rep. Bernadette Herrera. A version of the bill is also pending before the Senate – Senate Bill No. 2036, authored by Sen. Risa Hontiveros.
Both the House and Senate versions of the bill are now at the committee level, with the Senate version having its first committee deliberation last May 15, 2023. Meanwhile, the House Committee on the Welfare of Children deliberated on the proposal last July 31, 2023, and seeks to pass a consolidated version in its next committee hearing.
“At the heart of this bill is our ultimate wish – to bring Filipino families closer together. It is finetuned to ensure that it offers curative solutions rather than punitive actions, enabling it to pass the rigorous discernment of Congress,” said Rep. Co.
“I enjoin my colleagues in both houses of Congress to study the proposed bill and support its long overdue passage at the soonest possible time,” she added.