The recent cases of physical punishment resulting in the death of two children has pushed the Japanese government to review its laws on child abuse.
The case of Yua Funato and Mia Kurihara has prompted much media attention and backlash.
Kurihara reached out to her school and to a child welfare center, but they did not take prompt action and actually gave her back to her parents despite her accounts of abuse.
Japanese officials noted how the slow response and intervention of social workers and schools can deter children from getting help. Japanese laws on child abuse also need to be revised, as current laws only define child abuse as assault and sexual abuse that constitutes “lewd acts.”
The Japanese government will release guidelines aiming to clarify which disciplinary acts can be considered as punishment for children. Additionally, officials say that the guidelines do not aim to overlap with the parents’ authority over their children unless they inflict unlawful punishment.
In a totally contrasting effort, the Philippine president has recently vetoed a bill that seeks to prohibit the use of corporal punishment on children.
Duterte claimed that corporal punishment on children can provide “beneficial results” and raise “law-abiding citizens with a healthy respect for authority structures.” He urged lawmakers to resist the western cultural trends against corporal punishment as discipline for children.
The Anti-Palo (translation: Anti-Hitting) bill covers measures supporting “positive and non-violent discipline” along with protecting children from abusive and humiliating acts of punishment from parents, teachers, and other authorities.
The UNICEF and various children’s rights groups called for the support the Anti-Palo bill in light of the government’s alarming move to lower the age of criminal liability from 15 to 9 years old.
The high poverty rate in the Philippines already makes children more prone to abuse, exploitation, and lack of guidance and also puts more children at risk of juvenile delinquency.
In the recent years, Singapore has also shown an increase in cases of child abuse ranging from physical assault, sexual abuse, and outright neglect. Children are less likely to report cases of abuse if perpetuated by their own family members.
Studies show that children who undergo extended and repeated periods of corporal punishment are more prone to anxiety and depression and develop severe aggressive and anti-social behaviours. Parents and teachers can easily be carried away by their emotions as they inflict physical punishments on children.
Perhaps the only “desirable” effect of corporal punishment is immediate compliance and obedience to authority due to fear. Does the perceived reward outweigh the risks?
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