Pinching, slapping to discipline students constitute a crime – SC

Photo: Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

By Gerome Dalipe IV

This should serve as a warning to teachers before laying their hands on their students to discipline them.

Such act constitutes slight physical injuries punishable under Article 266 (1) of the Revised Penal Code, the Supreme Court said.

In its recent decision, the high tribunal found Luzviminda Pascua, a public school teacher, guilty of slight physical injuries for pinching the shoulders and slapping the back of a sixth grader in Iligan, Isabela.

“While Pascua’s right to discipline her student and nephew is not denied, the infliction of physical injuries on the person (of the child) is prohibited by no less than the Family Code, which expressly bans the infliction of corporal punishment by a school administrator, teacher or individual engaged in childcare exercising special parental authority,” read the SC decision.

Pascua got mad at the pupil, who is also her nephew, for coming late to school last May 2, 2011. She pinched the child’s shoulders and slapped his back, causing an abrasion in his arm.

Pascua argued she pinched the pupil because he was noisy during the flag ceremony. She said she merely tapped the boy’s left side of his body to call his attention and to respect the national anthem.

The trial court found Pascua guilty of child abuse for violating Section 10 ( a), Article VI of Republic Act 7610, or the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act. The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

In its decision, the high tribunal reversed the lower and appeals court decision and instead convicted him of slight physical injuries. She was also sentenced to 20 days of imprisonment and ordered to pay a fine of P5,000.

In reversing the appeals court’s ruling, the SC said the acts of pinching, tapping, and slapping on the child were not meant to debase, degrade, or demean the intrinsic worth and dignity of the child.

“Records showed and the defense was able to establish that Pascua’s acts were done at the spur of the moment and for the purpose of disciplining her minor student,” the SC said.

Although the injuries sustained by the child did not constitute child abuse or maltreatment, the high tribunal said Pascua is not without criminal liability and should still be held liable for slight physical injuries.