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Not all injuries inflicted upon a minor is child abuse

EOPLE January 25, 2017 G.R. No. 169533, March 20, 2013 the Supreme Court said that, “Not every instance of the laying of hands on a child constitutes the crime of child abuse under Section 10 (a) of Republic Act No. 7610.

Only when the laying of hands is shown beyond reasonable doubt that debase, degrade or demean the intrinsic worth and dignity of the child as a human being should it be punished as child abuse. Otherwise, it is punished under the Revised Penal Code.”

In this case, a father was accused with child abuse, an act in violation of Section 10(a) of RA 7610, for allegedly committing acts of physical abuse and/or maltreatment by striking a 12-year-old with his palm. He hit the child latter on his back and slapped him on his left cheek. He also uttered derogatory remarks at the latter’s family. These acts are prejudicial to the child’s development and which demean the intrinsic worth and dignity of the said child as a human being.

The accused denied having physically abused or maltreated the child. He explained that he only talked to them after her daughters complained that the minors threw stones at them and burned the other child’s hair. He denied shouting invectives at and challenging one of the parents to fight. He insisted that he only told them to restrain their children from harming his daughters. RTC and CA found and declared petitioner guilty of child abuse. The issue raised whether he would be guilty of child abuse.

The Supreme Court in this case ruled in negative explaining that the law under which the petitioner was charged, tried, and found guilty of violating is Section 10 (a), Article VI of Republic Act No. 7610.

In said provision of law under Section 10. Other Acts of Neglect, Abuse, Cruelty or Exploitation and other Conditions Prejudicial to the Child’s Development it states (a) Any person who shall commit any other acts of child abuse, cruelty or exploitation or be responsible for other conditions prejudicial to the child’s development including those covered by Article 59 of Presidential Decree No. 603, as amended, but not covered by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period.

The High Court in this said that,” Although we affirm the factual findings of fact by the RTC and the CA to the effect that the accused struck the child at the back with his hand and slapped him on the face, we disagree with their holding that his acts constituted child abuse within the purview of the above-quoted provisions.

The records did not establish beyond reasonable doubt that his laying of hands on the child had been intended to debase the “intrinsic worth and dignity” as a human being, or that he had thereby intended to humiliate or embarrass the child. The records showed the laying of hands on child to have been done at the spur of the moment and in anger, indicative of his being then overwhelmed by his fatherly concern for the personal safety of his own minor daughters who had just suffered harm at the hands of the complaining minor. With the loss of his self-control, he lacked that specific intent to debase, degrade or demean the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being that was so essential in the crime of child abuse.

The Supreme Court said however, that, although he will not be guilty of violation of .RA. 7610 but he can be convicted with Physical Injuries under the Revised Penal Code. Write us at carillogerry@yahoo.com.ph