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'Spare the child'

Doctors ask public not to harass daughter of cop who gunned down two civilians in Tarlac

By PhilSTAR L!fe Published Dec 21, 2020 10:56 am Updated Dec 21, 2020 10:34 pm

What should be the appropriate reaction to the daughter of the policeman who gunned down his two neighbors over a neighborhood spat in broad daylight?

Was she a “spoiled brat,” as actress Kyline Alcantara called her in a tweet?

Or, as spoken word artist Juan Miguel Severo said, should the child's action be seen as a “result of a failure in parenting and she must have the chance to be better”?

The poignant reactions toward the daughter came as those who saw the video noted the minor's “unflinching” reaction to the shooting, saying it might be a sign that she is already desensitized to violence due to her upbringing. In the video, the daughter of Police Senior Master Sgt. Jonel Nuezca can be heard shouting at the Sonya Gregorio the words “My father is a policeman!!" After Sonya shouted at her in turn, Nuezca gunned down Sonya and her son Frank Gregorio.

Protect the child
For clinical psychologist Joseph Marquez, we “still need to protect the child.”

“What I’m advocating right now is to stop the hate on the child,” Marquez told PhilStar L!fe.

Children can learn and be rehabilitated. We should still continue to advocate for her.

Noting that he chose not to watch the viral video, Marquez said it is understandable that people are highly emotional right now. But it must be remembered, as stated in the 12 Rights of a Filipino Children, that “every child has the right to be protected from danger.”

Marquez said that seeing her father in the shooting could be a traumatic experience.

“The child may experience a lot of emotions right now. Possible anxiety because her identity was revealed and she and her family are also fearing their safety,” he said.

Marquez does not dismiss the fact that the behavior she exhibited on the video could be a “a product of confidence where she knows that her father is someone powerful.”

But he said it’s also important to remind everyone that “his father did the crime, not her.”

“I still believe that children can learn and be rehabilitated,” Marquez said. “We should still continue to advocate for her. Separate the child from her father.”

He added, “She did not commit a crime. She was there because her father was there and she felt the need to ‘protect’ her father by displaying that kind of behavior.”

Not enough basis
In a separate interview, Karen Rose Vardeleon, psychologist at Childfam-Possibilities Psychosocial Services, told PhilStar L!fe that the child’s reaction on the video isn’t enough basis to make any judgment about her behavior or upbringing.

It’s possible that the child is exposed to violence based on her reaction to the shooting as seen on the video.

We have to protect them as minors regardless of what our judgment is of their behavior.

But it’s also possible that she isn’t.

People, especially children, respond to traumatic experiences differently, Vardeleon said.

And while it is expected of an adult to at least have an awareness of how to respond in traumatic situations, Vardeleon said the same can’t be said for children.

“We don’t have the information to make a conclusion on whether or not she’s desensitized to a parent who might be violent,” she said.

“From a clinical standpoint, we need to sit down with the person for several sessions and talk to them before we can come up with any conclusion about where an emotional reaction is coming from.”

Vardeleon also said, “You can have a casual reaction to violence because you are still in shock. You can have a casual reaction because in your family hindi masyadong na-nurture yung emotionality niya, and maybe you’re like that with everything.”

If the child is, indeed, exposed to violence in his environment, she “would need social support, psychological support, emotional support, and maybe even protectional intervention” in order to recover from the trauma.

Vardeleon said “it’s understandable that the public has strong emotions” over the incident.

But the public should remember that because some of the characters are also minors, “I think the responsibility of us as a society is to understand that we have to protect them from the impact of the event itself, which in itself is traumatic.”

A good mirror
In general, children still have to pick up their lives after a traumatic experience. Being placed under scrunity in a very public setting may deprive them of the tools they would need to recover.

“They need peers in order to recover, they need social support. Kapag viniral natin sila, we may take away those importants things for their recovery,” she said.

Vardeleon also said, “it also inhibits any opportunity to process the event and as they keep her on the defensive, all it accomplishes is shaming rather than getting her help she could use.”

In the end, Vardeleon said we should remember not to hate on the child online and instead focus on the discussion on issues such as the systemic change we want to apply in order to prevent these incidents from happening.

“It tells something bad about us as a population. It says na we like intrigue and we like someone to blame, and when we are hurt we want to go on the attack. And it’s a good mirror, I think, for us on what can be improved pa on how we respond to a situation,” she said.

“We have to protect them as minors regardless of what our judgment is of their behavior.”