A two-day orientation on “Protecting Children Against Online Child Sexual Abuse” was organized by the City Government of Valenzuela in partnership with Bantay Bata 163 at The City Hall on August 5 and 6.
Bantay Bata 163, a program under the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. (ALFKI), aims to bolster the child protection services in Valenzuela City, which is its sole local government unit-partner for its child protection programs.
Event participants were educated on the roles of law enforcement in online sexual exploitation; the roles of DSWD in rescue operation and rehabilitation; and the provisions of RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
Program Director of Bantay Bata 163 Ms. Shiela Estabillo, RSW, shared in her talk that the Philippines is a ‘hotspot’ area for online predators. She also discussed the kinds of online sexual exploitation and ways on how to report sexual child offenders, especially on social media.
“We need to eradicate the rampant sexual exploitation of our children. It’s not safe anymore, so we have to keep our eyes open and be vigilant when it comes to protecting our children,” Estabillo said.
Under the memorandum of agreement signed by the City Government of Valenzuela and ALFKI in November 2014, the two agencies agreed to assemble a crisis management team for abused children. Continuous lectures and seminars shall also be conducted to spread education in the communities on protecting their children from abuse.
According to a recent study by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), eight out of 10 Filipino children are at risk of sexual abuse and online bullying, and five in 10 Filipino children and adults think that “friends participate in risky behaviors while using the internet”. UNICEF data also show that child abuse cases in the country rose from 89 in 2014 to 167 in 2015.
In Valenzuela City, data from Children Needing Special Protection (CNSP) unit of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) show that in 2014, there were two cases of sexually assaulted children in the city in relation to the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act or RA 7610; six cases of sexual abuse; and 15 cases of rape in relation to RA 7610. The city has nil case on child abuse.
The 150 participants of the said orientation were social workers and psychologists from CSWDO; members of DSWD City Links; Barangay Council for Protection of Children (BCPC) Kagawads; officials, personnel and staff of City Prosecutors Office and Public Attorney’s Office; and Communications and IT professionals.