By Kristelle Bechayda
While the advent of the internet has brought so many advantages, there are also many challenges that come with it. One of them is providing a new platform for perpetrators to continue doing their schemes anonymously. This poses a great risk to users, most especially to minors. In fact, according to a 2016 study from UNICEF, 8 out of 10 Filipino children are at risk for being sexually abused online.
This alarming news has prompted the formation of the SaferKidsPH campaign. An initiative of the Australian government in partnership with Save the Children Philippines, The Asia Foundation, and UNICEF, it aims to reduce the cases of abuse and sexual exploitation of Filipino children by raising awareness on its effects and to engage all sectors to take part in finding solutions.
“Online sexual exploitation and abuse of children is a crime that transcends territorial jurisdictions. The SaferKidsPH campaign aims to bring more light to this issue,” says Australian Ambassador Steven J. Robinson AO in a press release.
He adds that awareness is the first step to take action on the issue. For the next six years, the Australian Government will be helping out the Philippine Government in bringing to light more information on children’s online safety, and promote the necessary steps in child-sensitive cases.
“We are committed to working with local government units and civil society actors to ensure that there are policies, programs, services, budgets and school and community-based child protection mechanisms in place to address OSAEC,” says Atty. Alberto Muyot who is the Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children.
The SaferKidPH campaign is part of the six-year SaferKidsPH initiative that aims to address the issue of online sexual exploitation and abuse on children by raising national awareness and supporting the implementation of laws and policies that protect children.
“Online sexual exploitation of children is a hidden crime. It happens in the homes, particularly in the bedrooms of our children,” says UNICEF Representative Oyunsaihan Dendevnorov. “SaferKidsPH is calling on the public to engage. Get to know the issue, join the discourse, report, support, and be a part of this movement demanding safety and protection for every child in all the spaces they are in, online and offline.”