Baguio City - According to the global United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) report, the Philippines has become a top global source of child pornography with around 80% of Filipino kids at risk of online sexual abuse or bullying.
This year's State of the World’s Children report, entitled "Children in a Digital World," focused on the opportunities and risks for children online. One in 3 internet users globally is a child, the report said. The pervasiveness of the internet coupled with less supervision from parents has opened a myriad of possibilities, some of which are potentially dangerous. Websites, mobile apps and online payment methods have helped accelerate the proliferation of sex trafficking and “made to order” child pornography.
Social media has been proven to be a powerful tool for positive social impact but it is also being used for crime, such as the cybersex trade. A new study released by Plan International found that 6 out of 10 of its respondents turned online to seek clients who exploited children as young as 11 years old.
Alarming isn’t it. Given this disturbing reality, it's the responsibility of all parents to protect their kids not only by supervising their activities online, but also by teaching them what a healthy, loving relationship actually is. "Living in such a wired, communication-rich environment may be what finally forces people to talk to their kids about cyberporn and so many other difficult but important issues
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in the implementation of Republic Act No. 9775 or the "Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009”, is to strengthen the Sagip Batang Manggagawa Quick Action Teams (SBM-QRT) vs. cyber child pornography in all DOLE regions.
Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III has directed all DOLE regional directors to intensify monitoring of cyber child pornography in their regions and to be ready to mobilize their respective Sagip Batang Manggagawa Quick Action Teams at the first sign of the danger, and rescue the children who are being victimized.
Cyber child pornography is one of the worst forms of child labor as enumerated in Section 3 of Republic Act 9232. Children should always be under a safe, protective, and caring environment. Sometimes, parents themselves are usually the ones who put their children to work in this kind of hazardous environment. If parents or guardians fail to protect their children, then, the DOLE needs to step in and intervene for these minors. The government is there to ensure that children are free from all forms of abuse, neglect, exploitation, and discrimination, or any condition detrimental to their development.
Launched in 1993, the Sagip Batang Manggagawa is a DOLE advocacy program, part of the national strategy to reduce the number of child workers, especially those in hazardous work. It involves the creation of inter-agency Quick Action Teams that respond to cases against child laborers in extremely hopeless conditions. The teams' tasks are to detect, monitor, and take action against incidence of the most hazardous forms of child labor, of which cyber child pornography is one.
Over the years, the Sagip Batang Mangagawa has responded to cases of child labor in extremely abject conditions, such as bonded/slave labor, commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking for illegal employment, and hazardous work and activities. Children fall easy prey to exploitative child labor and hazardous types of work because of ignorance and poverty, which force them to work to contribute family income.
The SBM-QAT does not end at rescue and closure operations. As part of the inter-agency effort, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) provides aftercare assistance to rescued minors, while the Department of Justice (DOJ) is responsible for filing and prosecuting criminal charges. The DOLE handles administrative cases and leads the teams, working with the DSWD, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine National Police (NBI), local government units (LGUs), and non-government organizations (NGOs) in raids of suspected child labor lairs.
The DOLE also provides parents of rescued minors with livelihood assistance and skills training so they can start earning for their family. Providing parents with the means to support the needs of their children is one of the viable solutions the DOLE considers in its effort to keep these kids off the bait and hook of criminal child labor perpetrators.
The livelihood assistance and skills training for parents of child laborers is under the H.E.L.P. M. E. convergence program. H.E.L.P. stands for health, education, livelihood, and prevention, protection, and prosecution, while M.E. stands for monitoring and evaluation.
The convergence program was conceived for a deliberate, harmonized, and convergent approach in addressing the problem of child labor in the country, seeks to free at least 30 % of the 2.1 million child laborers in the country by 2022.
The DOLE and DSWD lead in the implementation of H.E.L.P. M.E., which uses convergence strategies to free identified barangays from child labor and to influence change, identify allies, and solicit commitments of support of stakeholders, specifically government agencies, non-government and faith-based organizations, local chief executives, private sector establishments, and the parents of child laborers themselves.
For more information on Republic Act No. 9775 or the "Anti-Child Pornography Act of visit www.dole.gov.ph or www.dswd.gov.ph or www.bwsc.dole.gov.ph / Patrick T Rillorta
***Article from DOLE Cordillera Administrative Region