Recognizing the risks and dangers children face as the education system shifts into distance learning, the Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday announced that a supplemental policy will be issued to strengthen its Child Protection Policy (CPP).
During the virtual “Handang Isip, Handa Bukas” press briefing, DepEd Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Josephine Maribojoc outlined the initiatives of the department to ensure the protection of children against all forms of abuses in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Every child, no matter how young or small, is not half a person, but a whole person with dignity and rights,” Maribojoc said. “The child is at the center of all that we do in DepEd,” she added.
As cited in the CPP or the DepEd Order No. 40, Series of 2012, Maribojoc reiterated DepEd’s “zero tolerance policy against all forms of violence and abuse upon learners.”
However, with the implementation of the Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) as a response to the disruption in education due to the COVID-19 crisis, Maribojoc said that there is a need to revisit the CPP and issue supplementary guidelines.
Since there will be various delivery modalities to be used this school year, Maribojoc said that children might be exposed to various risks even as they are learning at home. For instance, she noted that some children might be subjected to “corporal punishment, neglect, and even child labor.”
”For students who are studying through online classes, Maribojoc said that they might also be exposed to cyberbullying. Worse, some children might become victims of cyber pornography, online sexual abuse, and exploitation. “They might also be exposed to online predators,” she added.
To help ensure that children’s rights are protected even during distance learning, Maribojoc said that the supplemental policy on child protection in the context of the BE-LCP will focus on home-based learning, the functionality of child protection committee and reporting of cases, and safeguarding students online.