To what extent can a teacher discipline a student?
I have been asked to discuss the rules. For proper guidance, these are the rules:
1.) The prohibition under the Family Code of the Philippines is only against corporal punishment which means infliction of bodily harm. Anything less than corporal punishment is not expressly prohibited but may fall under the provisions of the Child Abuse Law;
2.) The Child Abuse Law ( RA No. 7610) applies only, according to the Supreme Court, when there is a clear intention to debase , degrade or demean the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being. When the intention is just to discipline and teach the student a lesson for his own good , this does not fall under the Child Abuse Law. In fact, in one case, a man hit a child as a knee-jerk reaction to the child’s naughtiness, he was absolved of a crime under the Child Abuse Law because his intention was not to demean the intrinsic worth of the child. He was however made liable under some offenses under ordinary criminal laws
3.) With respect to criminal law, the spirit of the Revised Penal Code is clear: there is no crime when there is no criminal mind. In Bagajo vs. Marave, a teacher inflicted corporal punishment resulting in the slight physical injuries of the student. The SC acquitted the teacher because her intention was to discipline and not to commit a crime. However the teacher was held administratively liable because hitting a child with a ruler or stick was corporal punishment. If the infliction is excessive, the teacher may be held criminally liable as the grave wounds are proofs of sheer anger not any motivation to discipline.
4.) Teachers are expressly given Special Parental Authority by the Family Code. Hence they can discipline subject to the rules explained in 1,2 and 3 above. In law , there is no express prohibition for a parent to give his/her child some measure of physical punishment . The only prohibition is that it should not be excessive because in so doing his/her parental authority may be suspended or terminated depending on the attendant gravity. Accordingly, there is no question that a teacher, being given by law special parental authority, can make a student undergo some form of punishment ( except corporal punishment) provided it should also not be excessive.
5.) When I was in the elementary grade, I was not able to do my homework twice, my teacher punished me by making me write 50 times on the blackboard: ” I will do my homework everyday.” And I thought then that I deserve it. When I was in high-school during Martial law, I, together with my other classmates, boycotted classes. Our parents were summoned. We were suspended and made to run 100 laps around the basketball court. We obeyed and that event, in retrospect, had become one of the “bragging experience” my high school classmates and I always talked about during reunions.
Isinulat ni Dean Mel Sta. Maria