Protect your child from online sexual exploitation
By Kristelle Bechayda
There is an alarming issue that threatens the safety of Filipino children. According to a 2016 study published by the Council for the Welfare of Children, in partnership with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), one out of five children suffers from sexual violence at home, in school, or in their communities.
When Plan International Philippines, a developmental and humanitarian organization for girls’ rights, launched its guidebook Face Your Peers recently, campaigns and advocacy specialist Pauline De Guzman shared the factors why such violence occurs and what parents can do to protect their children.
Why it happens
The new guidebook focuses on the commercial and online sexual exploitation (CSEC and OSEC) that happen either because of poverty or the lack of guidance from parents. This is according to the study that Plan International conducted.
“Nakita namin na ang primary reason kung bakit nasasangkot ang mga bata sa sexual exploitation is because of poverty. It’s either fino-force sila ng kanilang parents or guardians na pumasok sa sex industry, pero meron ding ang mga bata who voluntarily enter because they want to provide money for their family,” De Guzman explained of the sad reality.
She also added that social media poses threats on the children’s safety and urges parents to guide and monitor their online activities. “[Social media] is everywhere and children can easily access these. So ‘yung kawalan ng pagbibigay ng guidance sa mga bata ay nagiging dahilan para ma- recruit yung mga kabataan sa sex industry,” she said.
How to protect your child
This issue on sexual exploitation isn’t something to be taken lightly. De Guzman advises parents to know how CSEC and OSEC work and acknowledge the dangers they pose on their kids. “Alamin nila kung paano [ito] nangyayari, saan siya sa ating online platform, at sabihan yung mga bata na huwag nilang gawing pang public ang kanilang mga Facebook profile to protect the information on their accounts.”
She also reiterated the importance of giving their support. “Show them na nandoon kayo para sa kanila. Kahit gaano man kahirap ang buhay, nandoon ang parents para alagaan sila at hindi sila pababayaan. I think that’s very important for a child na maiwasan o maging vulnerable sa CSEC and OSEC,” she said.
Where to report the case
Being a victim is traumatizing to a child and De Guzman highly encourages the parents to report cases to government agencies, which are available from the barangay to the national level.
“Meron tayong barangay council for the protection of children (BCPC) and the gender desks. Sa level naman ng ating munisipyo, nandyan ang ating Municipal Social Welfare and Development (MSWDO). So ito yung mga ahensya na tumutulong at nagbibigay tugon sa mga reports ng CSEC and OSEC sa ating community.” Pauline shared.
She also added that parents can file their complaints to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the police, and other civil society organizations who can give them support and justice to the abuse that was done.
“Gusto natin na ang mga biktima ay magreport talaga kasi mas naiintindihan natin kung bakit siya nangyayari at ano ang kailangan pang gawin ng gobyerno para tulungan sila. So reporting the case is very important,” she said.
The guidebook Face Your Peers is now available for free on the official website of Plan International Philippines. You may download the file here.