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A POLICY ANALYSIS ON PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY OVER MINOR

CHILDREN

MARY ANN E. ANTENOR


Doctor of Public Administration

I. INTRODUCTION

It is a fact that our local society has a long standing challenge on different issues
with regard to juvenile delinquency and its causes. This challenge was even made
difficult as during our series and repetitive committee hearings revealed that although
the implementing authorities are determined to resolve the issue, they are barred by
certain laws and procedures in handling children which may be detrimental to their
position thus making the solution temporary and the problem be on a monotonous
cycle. The desire to find a long-term solution and to protect our children without
compromising the implementing authorities motivated the researcher to undergo
rigorous research and consultation that led to the discovery of a precedent ordinance
in City of Mandaluyong and cost-effectiveness analysis of the proposed policy related
thereto in the City Government of Batangas.

Having general care and custody of the child, parents/guardians must not only
have the moral duty but must take lawful and shared responsibility to the acts of the
child that may have an inimical effect to himself/herself and/or others. It should be
clear however, that the intention and methodology of this proposed policy is not to
instantly punish the parent/guardian since the researcher, shares the opinion that
“penalizing the parents won’t necessarily make them good parents”. It is with that belief
that different from the enacted ordinance that immediately impose fees, the researcher
analyzed that the author of the proposed Parental Responsibility Ordinance have
prescribed on this proposed legislation, the initial consequences to be guidance,
counseling and intervention prior to any fees. However, individuals of legal age who
encourages, tolerates and allows children of their company to commit such acts shall
face serious penalties once the ordinance takes effect.

II. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND

In the light of policy’s ability to influence people’s behaviour, we have argued


for family proofing as a means to analyze “the effect of policy on family relationships
and the family’s ability to contribute to key policy goals” (Ashcroft and Wong, 2010).
This paper attempts to answer the “but how?” question for policy-makers. The reality
of policymaking and the diversity of social and policy contexts mean that a single toolkit
with a long checklist or assessment framework, such as those traditionally associated
with Family Impact Assessments (Wong, 2010), will not be able to analyze adequately
the potential consequences of policy on families. In this regard, family proofing
involves reforming the approach to the entire policy-making process and developing a
mechanism that incorporates a multi-layered approach.

The Relationships Foundation believes the layer in between is where policy can
influence family relationships and wellbeing through three key domains and seven
critical levers, as represented in our 3D7L model of influence as shown in Figure 1.
This level is arguably the most critical in a policymaking process that adopts a family
perspective. Strong family relationships, important as they may be, cannot be legislated
into existence – they cannot be decreed and expected to emerge overnight. Instead,
they must be influenced. The entire family proofing mechanism is neutral in both
concept and practice, and does not pander to any political persuasions. This is indeed
one of its key differentiating features vis-à-vis the more traditional Family Impact
Assessments. Family proofing recognizes all forms, shapes and sizes of families, and
does not discriminate against any. This, in essence, makes it applicable to any
government that has the wellbeing of the family high on its agenda and that understands
family relationships and wellbeing are key to achieving higher goals of progress. The
neutrality of the family proofing mechanism in this respect is evident in that what the
middle and bottom layers analyze will depend on what the top layer constitutes.

Family proofing is primarily concerned with analyzing whether policy motivates


(motivation), creates the opportunity (opportunity) for and supports people to value
(support), form and strengthen committed family relationships; discharge personal
responsibilities pertaining to relationships within the family; and conduct relationships
in ways that enhance the wellbeing of the family. Policy can affect one or more of the
seven critical levers of influence, which in turn affect one or more of the three key
domains of influence. For instance, a policy that gives the right to parents of children
under-16 the right to request flexible working might have an impact on people’s time
(a lever of influence). This might create opportunities (a domain of influence) to spend
more time with the family as people are better able to schedule their work around family
life and caring for children or relatives. Having such opportunities enable them to build
stronger family relationships and a deeper bond, and to provide informal relational
support (a domain of influence) to family members in need. Just as motivation,
opportunity and support are interlinked and interrelated, each of these seven critical
levers may be influenced by or has a rub-off effect on another.

In relation to local policy, this framework acknowledges the critical role played
by the local government units in recognizing the importance of promoting and
protecting all aspects of child’s well-being. Among the numerous rights of children, the
State recognizes and shall uphold that every child has the right to protection against
exploitation, improper influences, hazards, and other conditions or circumstances
prejudicial to his physical, mental, emotional, social and moral development, in which
among several causes are attributable to all forms of negligence.

III. METHODOLOGY

Given the specific objective of analyzing a local ordinance of prescribing


parental responsibility over minor children, a qualitative method was used to collect
data. Such methodology is explicitly framed around the evaluation criteria of assessing
policy alternatives (i.e. effectiveness and cost). During the gathering of information, the
researcher conducted informal interviews with various stakeholders, and carried out a
conversations with a lawyer, legislators and social workers.

The major methodological limitations of this research method is the


unavailability of some key informants and relevant data. As a result, the impact of the
programs under evaluation cannot be accurately measured. Instead, the effects of these
programs are examined with causal reasons for accomplishments and failures to be
identified, as much as possible. In cognizance to the significant roles of people
concerned to the society, the researcher submitted intent letter for legal opinions from
City Legal Officer and other legislators for guidance and support. She also identified
two different views: 1) from the point of view of the government; and 2) from the
viewpoint of the intended or target beneficiaries of the policy. By this, the researcher
believed that it can further help towards the realization of the protection of our children
and the whole community that we try to safeguard through considering and legislating
accurate and timely policies.

IV. MAIN BODY OF THE PAPER

A. BRIEF BACKGROUND OF THE AREAS TO BE STUDIED

Batangas City is classified as a Regional Growth Center in the CALABARZON


region with a strong policy framework for the protection and fulfilment of child rights
and become a part of nation building and contribute to the growth of their community.
However, one of the key challenges that Batangas City continues to face issues with
regards to minor’s deviant behaviours, acts or crimes which has strongly affected the
City and had a negative impact on the well-being of children and family. In line with
the vision of the Batangas City Government in promoting welfare for children, the said
Code of Parental Responsibility emphasizes the shared responsibility of parents and
the state to raise children to become good citizens. While the government creates
programs promoting the welfare of children, the author of the Ordinance stressed
parent’s responsibility to provide children with “full care and guidance”.

The City Government of Batangas alongside with various on-going programs


and projects of the City Social Welfare and development Office to ensure the safety
and well-being of its children recognizes the prevailing challenge of keeping them away
from the streets, individuals and or other conditions that may be prejudicial to their
welfare by empowering the parents and invoking parental lawful responsibilities. The
package of programs and services of the national government were devolved in the
local level for its effective implementation. The program include for welfare of children,
youth, women, family, PWD and elderlies.

Despite being one the Most-Child Friendly local government, struggles with
cases of rugby boys, street children, bullying, minor sextortion, drug pushing, and
videogame addiction can be traced to parental neglect. In order to address the need for
establishing quality and accessible parenting support services, the researcher believes
that the City Government should initiates policy and frameworks for development of
innovative, comprehensive models of positive parenting support intended for parents
of minor children in general population. These programs will provide methodology of
community-based parenting services in support to parents of minor children, and
include continuous internal process evaluation to assess the impact and benefits for
parents participating in the programs.

B. PROBLEMS AND ISSUES IDENTIFIED


The purpose of this policy analysis on local ordinance prescribing parental
responsibility over minor children was the result of existing issues with regards to
minor’s deviant behaviours, acts or crimes which are not just prejudicial to their welfare
but to other children and individuals as well. It is also a fact that in some of these cases,
these children are deliberately being exploited and used by unscrupulous adults for their
personal gain. Although such cases are not widely rampant in the City, the fact that
such cases exists and the tireless repetitive committee hearings that led to intangible
solutions due to child protection laws is sufficient enough for such legislation. Such
cases are the (1) rugby/solvent boys (2) street children at risk begging on roads (3)
bullying (4) minor to minor sextortion (5) drug pushing of marijuana in school (6)
videogame addiction. With the child protection laws blocking the government itself in
what is supposed to be its duty to protect the children, the problem/issue will keep on
what it seems to be an endless loop if this ordinance will not be enacted. Therefore, it
is necessary that the matter be addressed on the foundation of every family itself which
is home or the parents.

The desire to find a long-term solution and to protect our children without
compromising the implementing authorities motivated this researcher to undergo
rigorous research and consultation that led to the discovery of a precedent ordinance
in City of Mandaluyong. With the local ordinance, it revealed that the element that plays
a major role towards the solution was the parents, thus crimes involving children in
Mandaluyong City dropped almost 75% on 2014 following the implementation. This
figure is what we are aiming at to be achieved in our city. Having general care and
custody of the child, parents/guardians must not only have the moral duty but must
take lawful and shared responsibility to the acts of the child that may have an inimical
effect to himself/herself and/or others. It should be clear however, that the intention
and methodology of this proposed ordinance is not to instantly punish the
parent/guardian since the researcher shares the opinion of Education Undersecretary
Alberto Muyot that “penalizing the parents won’t necessarily make them good parents”.

It is with that belief that different from the enacted ordinance that immediately
impose fees, that the author has prescribed on the proposed local legislation the initial
consequences to be guidance, counseling and intervention prior to any fees. It is for
the reason that the ordinance prefers that the parents of such juveniles be guided and
educated as partner of the City Government to raise a child towards a strong and
premier city with strong valued citizenry. However, individuals of legal age who
encourages, tolerates and allows children of their company to commit such acts shall
face serious penalties once the ordinance takes effect.

In view therefore, it is the researcher’s deepest prayer that this proposed


legislation be enacted for “it is not just the government’s duty to cultivate laws. It is also the
government’s duty to cultivate values”.
C. POLICY ANALYSIS
i. Cost-Effectiveness Analysis

Cost-effectiveness analysis is a tool utilized in this policy analysis. In relation to


the Policy of Parental Responsibility over Minor Children, for instance, it attempts to
determine which practices and policies protect the greatest number of children for the
lowest cost. In this type of analysis, key measures of program effectiveness and cost are
identified. Cost-effectiveness analysis is the most appropriate tool to be utilized, in
order to address the identified problems or issues about parental responsibility. It is
better be used by an organization, specifically by the local government units, with a
limited budget to determine which strategy prevents more cases of child neglect. Or on
the other case, if two or three policy strategies or alternatives achieve similar benefits,
this tool might be used to determine which of these is least expensive to implement.

ii. Assessing Policy Alternatives

Policy analysis plays a critical role in identifying the problem or issue and
describing policy alternatives related to parental responsibility, analyzing these policies
to better understand their potential impacts, identifying evidence-based policy solutions
and its gaps and developing strategy to further adopt a policy solution.

Policy Alternative 1: Mandaluyong City Code of Parental Responsibility for


the Protection of Children’s Rights

a. Effectiveness

The rationale behind this policy alternative is that the first people who should
be taking care of minors and preventing them from becoming lawbreakers are their
parents. It was really painful to see children, some as young as 12, who are repeatedly
caught violating laws and being used by street gangs, drug pushers and other criminal
groups. You keep on returning them to their homes and talk to their parents about it
“and yet you see the same kids doing it again as if nothing happened”.

Holding parents accountable for crimes committed by their children, who are
still deemed minors, is an effective crime deterrent. In Mandaluyong City, crimes
involving children have dropped by almost 75% since March 2014 following the
implementation of the Code of Parental Responsibility or City Ordinance No. 538 as
per Mandaluyong City PIO Chief Jimmy Isidro. More so, he also states that if the
parents lack knowledge of the child’s actions, they can raise it in their defense but must
have evidence to back up their claim. He further explained that the children addressed
by the ordinance are those abandoned, neglected or abused by their parents and the
primary aim of the ordinance is really not to imprison erring parents, but to teach, guide
and help them raise their children to be responsible citizens of Mandaluyong City.

According to the transcript of the State of the City Address, a total of 63 cases
of crimes involving children were reported to the women and children’s protection
desk of Mandaluyong. The crimes ranged from simple mischief to rioting, and even
robbery. However, with the implementation of the ordinance, the number of crimes
involving minors dropped significantly to 33 in 2014, and 25 in 2015. The City Official
cited “With this ordinance, the family grows closer to the government. They become
more aware of their responsibilities and not become too dependent on the
government.”

In response to the increase of crimes committed by children, the said ordinance


was authored and enacted after various consultations with various stakeholders in the
City’s 27 barangays, health and social workers, school principals and students, police
stations and its women desks, barangay officials and their councilors, homeowners
associations and parent-teacher groups. Under the ordinance, violators are either fined
or imprisoned. A no-contest provision was also made available for the parents, wherein
they can pay a fine or render community service for the first three times they violate
the ordinance. For the first offense, there is a P1,000 fine or eight hours community
service; second offense, P3,000 fine or 16 hours community service; and for the third
offense, a P5,000 fine or 24 hours community service. The parents would only be in
danger of being put in jail after the third offense. These provisions provide fair
consequences for parents prior to any fees. The Mandatory Parent Effectiveness
Service Sessions develop awareness among concerned parents thereby decreasing the
number of cases of children’s in conflict with the law. In line with the role of the
Barangay and City Social Welfare Development Office, their firm commitment,
support and proper exercises of parental authority and responsibility will be particularly
effective for those cases of violation of the said policy.

b. Cost

In relation to its cost, additional challenge to implementing or parental


authorities are needed to sustain the policy, since it requires various interventions. The
Mandatory Parent Effectiveness Service Sessions also entails necessary training costs
for trainers, facilitators, materials and venues. There would be also additional training
and development expenses on the part of the staff of the City Social Welfare
Development and Barangay Council for the Protection of Children in the conduct of
activities and interventions related thereto.
POLICY OPTIONS EFFECTIVENESS COST
Penalties for Neglect of Crimes involving children Additional challenge to
Child in Mandaluyong City implementing or parental
dropped almost 75% on authorities since various
2014 following the interventions are needed
implementation. to sustain the policy.
No Contest Provision Provides fair Additional challenge to the
consequences for parents Barangay Council for
prior to any fees. Protection of Children
(BCPC) since they are
responsible for
summoning parents who
violated this policy
Attendance on Develops awareness Necessary training costs
Mandatory Parent among concerned parents for trainers, facilitators,
Effectiveness Service thereby decreasing the materials and venues.
Sessions number of cases of
children’s in conflict with
the law
Role of the Barangay Particularly effective for Additional training and
and of the City Social those cases of violation of development expenses for
Welfare and the said policy through a the Barangay Council for
Development firm commitment, support the Protection of Children
and proper exercises of and for CSWD staff in the
parental authority and conduct of activities and
responsibility of those of interventions related
concern thereto

Policy Alternative 2: Proposed Ordinance Prescribing Parental


Responsibility over Minor Children

a. Effectiveness

It is with that belief that different from the first policy alternative, this alternative
explained that instead of immediately impose fees, the author has prescribed on the
proposed legislation the initial consequences to be guidance, counseling and
intervention prior to any fees. It is for the reason that the ordinance prefers that the
parents of such juveniles be guided and educated as partner of the City Government to
raise a child towards a strong and premier city with strong valued citizenry. It will also
ensures that penalties provided therein are fair and made with sounds basis that will
help decrease the chance of having neglected child. Particularly, the Penalties for
Neglect of Child provides reasonable and gradual approach in order to educate and
guide parents prior to any fees that will have a long term effect, while the No Contest
Provision provides a strong deterrence to parents most especially to individuals who
will tolerate and encourage children to perform such acts inimical to their well-being.

The Mandatory Parent Effectiveness Service Sessions ensures the compliance


in attendance of parents in order to take advantage of the opportunity to learn the
fundamentals of parenting.; the institutionalization of intervention, diversion,
rehabilitation and community-based programs will presents long-term / sustainable
approach with the provision of follow-up and contingencies which will serve not just
responsive and mitigating strategy but also preventive measures.; and the support to
prosecutor and other counsels handling cases of children will not just provide
significant effect for the benefit of the aggrieved party/children in seeking justice but
will present a strong impression to violators and possible violators of the city
governments political will in protecting and promoting the welfare of its children.

b. Cost

In terms of its cost, there would be a challenge to the implementing agencies in


monitoring since it may incur additional equipment in order to effectively carry out the
monitoring system. In line of the given policy options such as Penalties, Mandatory
Parent Effectiveness Service Sessions, Institutionalization of intervention, diversion,
rehabilitation and community-based programs and Support the prosecutor or counsels
handling cases of children; no further costs since there are already budget for
psychiatrists for 2019 Annual Budget and all administrative expenses are available on
the approved 2019 annual budget. Infrastructure and other costs may be realized
through the subsidy of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, while there
will timely costs for the parents which is justifiable by the advantages/gains from the
mandatory service sessions. There will only be additional challenges however, the
implementing agencies are already mandated by LGC of 1991 (R.A. 7160) to perform
their duties.

POLICY OPTIONS EFFECTIVENESS COST


Penalties for Neglect of Provides reasonable and No further costs since
Child gradual approach in order there are already budget
to educate and guide for psychiatrists for 2019
parents prior to any fees Annual Budget. There will
that will have a long term only be additional
effect. challenges however, the
implementing agencies are
already mandated by LGC
(R.A. 7160) to perform
their duties.
No Contest Provision Provides a strong Challenge to the
deterrence to parents most implementing agencies in
especially to individuals monitoring. It may incur
who will tolerate and additional equipment in
encourage children to order to effectively carry
perform such acts inimical out the monitoring system
to their well-being
Attendance on Ensures the compliance in Although there is no cost
Mandatory Parent attendance of parents in for the city government,
Effectiveness Service order to take advantage of there will timely costs for
Sessions the opportunity to learn the parents which is
the fundamentals of justifiable by the
parenting. advantages/gains from the
mandatory service
sessions.
Institutionalization of Presents long-term / No significant cost for the
intervention, diversion, sustainable approach with city government since all
rehabilitation and the provision of follow-up administrative expenses
community-based and contingencies which are available on the
programs will serve not just approved 2019 annual
responsive and mitigating budget. Infrastructure and
strategy but also other costs may be realized
preventive measures. through the subsidy of the
Department of Social
Welfare and
Development.
Support the prosecutor Will not just provide None
or counsels handling significant effect for the
cases of children benefit of the aggrieved
party/children in seeking
justice but will present a
strong impression to
violators and possible
violators of the city
governments political will
in protecting and
promoting the welfare of
its children.
Policy Alternative 3: Implementation of Sustainable Family Welfare
Program

a. Effectiveness

Since the major thrust of both national and local government is to look into the
welfare of Batangueños families in the barangay level, the researcher believes that it is
good to consider the package program of Sustainable Family Welfare Program. This
program will provides knowledge and skills to parents and other adults about
Philippines’ laws on caring, family rearing and knowing the rights and duties of parents
and children to prevent family dysfunctions through various programs and services.
The establishment of Batangas City Rehabilitation Center and Youth Home for
Children in Conflict offers greater assurance of protecting child’s right from any form
of abuses through the establishment of children facilities and services, while the
Responsible Parenthood Services provides a big pool of awareness to parents about
childhood care and development, good parenting and responsible parenthood. The
policy option of Family Case Work provides sustainable interventions to family with
minor conflicts on relations.

b. Cost

Same with the first and second policy alternatives, additional challenge to
implementing authorities specifically the CSWDO are needed to sustain the policy,
since it requires various interventions and activities. The establishment of Batangas City
Rehabilitation Center and Youth Home for Children in Conflict relatively additional
capital outlay needed, however, the DSWD National Office may subsidize to local
funds for the realization of the initiative and for the Family Case Work, additional funds
for the training of CSWDO’s staff are also needed for their professional growth and
development and effective delivery of such programs.

POLICY OPTIONS EFFECTIVENESS COST


Establishment of Offers greater assurance of
Relatively additional
Rehabilitation Center protecting child’s right
capital outlay needed,
and Youth Home for from any form of abuses
however, the DSWD
Children in Conflict through the establishment
National Office may
of children facilities and
subsidize to local funds for
services the realization of the
initiative
Responsible Parenthood Provides a big pool of Additional challenges in
Services awareness to parents about part of the CSWDO and
childhood care and its staff
development, good
parenting and responsible
parenthood
Family Case Work Provides sustainable Additional funds for the
interventions to family training of CSWDO’s staff
with minor conflicts on for their professional
relations growth and development
and effective delivery of
such programs

V. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

To improve the well-being of minor children and families it serves and that of
the wider society, the Child Protection Policies and mechanisms must be concerned
with improving its services. One path to upgrading services is for Child Welfare
administrators to implement effective, evidence-based interventions that could be
delivered within the system to improve programs and services outcomes. However,
competing demands of an already over-burdened system, multiple funding streams, the
need to work with related agencies likely to deliver the interventions such as diversion
programs, rehabilitation programs, community-based programs, medical services,
psychological services and the uncertainty about the effectiveness in real world settings
of interventions developed and tested in highly structured environments present major
challenges for any policy or mechanism.

In terms of which policy alternatives best promotes and ensures protection of


the child’s right, the researcher believes that still, the role of the City Government of
Batangas in promoting and ensuring the child’s right to protection from any form of
abuses are crucial. It is really challenging for the City Government to establish a
Rehabilitation Center and Youth Home for Children in Conflict with the law and at
Risk since it requires budgetary appropriations and expenditures. However, the
researcher believes that through the enactment of the proposed Child Protection
Policy, it will ensures the sustainability of the program and services and really
strengthens parental responsibility over minors.
REFERENCES:

Wong, D. (2010). Towards a Conceptual Framework for Family Proofing Policy:


Understanding the Key Domains and Critical Levers of Influence. Relationships
Foundation: Cambridge: UK, p. 1-98

Mandaluyong City Code of Parental Responsibility for the Protection of Children’s


Rights.

Batangas City Proposed Ordinance Prescribing Parental Responsibility over Minor


Children.