Roperos: Child abuse

By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics Also

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

WHEN news about the Cebu City Council ordinance against corporal punishment involving children came out, I remember perfectly that the authors of the measure were four city councilors. But yesterday’s reports sounded like the ordinance has a new author.

Actually, I am just curious why Rep. Tomas Osmeña came into the picture. Or should he have stayed out of it, and let the affair stay as a purely city council one? But then it does not matter really, since the core of the issue is the penalty imposed.

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I think that the ordinance went “overboard” on the matter, without first considering our innate cultural values. I recall that our parents of the past were deeply and gravely concerned about the behavior of their children, too. They loved their children, but were clearly watchful that their kids did not overstep the bounds of elderly respect and acceptable behavior.

For instance, we were never allowed to cut in when the older ones were talking to each other. Such a deed always merited a pinch on the crotches, a spanking, or the lesser pinching of the ears. Interrupting the elders talking was an unforgivable offense.

When I was eleven years old and in grade five, I was asked by my teacher, Miss Maria Rondez, to bring a note to our shop teacher, Mr. Estares, who was in the shop building across the playground. The place was visible from our school room.

On my way back, I was very curious what the exchange was about. So I opened the folded note and tried reading the contents. But it was difficult to read Mr. Estares’s penmanship. It earned me a scolding before the whole class, humiliating me.

Under the city council ordinance, I could already have charged Miss Rondez with abuse for humiliating me in front of my classmates. But that would have been a situation where my parents would have staged a “rebellion” against those who imposed such “penalties” against the elders of the town.

It was normal in those days for us children who had “misbehaved” to be made to kneel on mongo beans before the altar, and with outstretched hands like Jesus on the Cross.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said that discipline should be about “teaching a child to exercise self-control…Instead of hitting or shouting at a child, parents can deprive the erring kid certain privileges like watching TV or going to the mall.”

The DSWD child specialist said that parents and children should agree on what form of discipline would be imposed so that the kids will know the consequences when they break the rules. This, to me, is quite fair and palatable enough. But we shall leave this problem now to our city officials for them to dispose of it as humanely as possible.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 04, 2012.

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