Amid the reported selling of students’ sensual photos and videos exchange for money, a child rights organization on Tuesday underscored the importance of training teachers and parents on cyber safety to ensure that their students and children are protected from online sexual abuse.
Save the Children Philippines (SCP), in a statement, raised concern on the online activity dubbed as “Christmas sale” – where students allegedly posted sensual photos and videos of themselves and of their younger siblings in social media – to raise funds to be used for distance learning related expenses.
For SCP CEO Atty. Alberto Muyot, the government “needs to address the impact of COVID-19 on the livelihood of many families” to help prevent the rise of sexual abuse and exploitation of children and youth, and to intensify efforts to capture and prosecute online predators.
“Online sexual abuse and exploitation violate children’s rights to protection, physical integrity, and human dignity,” said Muyot who is also a former Department of Education (DepEd) Undersecretary.
Muyot added that protecting children from online predators also calls for a “unified action of parents, guardians and leaders of schools and communities to protect children and youth from online predators.”
In partnership with the DepEd, SCP has rolled out a Cybersafe training program for teachers and school personnel to ensure children are safe from online sexual abuse and exploitation.
The Cybersafe training seeks to capacitate teachers, school personnel, and community leaders on children’s rights, online sexual abuse and exploitation, and how to access child protection services.
Guidance counselors, principals, child protection representatives and DepEd regional staff in partner schools in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan also participated in the Cybersafe training.
The training is part of the activities of SaferKidsPH, a six-year initiative of the Australian government to reduce the online sexual abuse and exploitation of children in the Philippines. It is being implemented through the pioneering consortium of Save the Children Philippines, the Asia Foundation and UNICEF.
To stay safe while using digital platforms, SaferKidsPH urges children and youth not to accept friend requests or reply to messages from people you do not know, set their accounts to private, and do not put personal information on their bio like your birthday, school, workplace, or address.
Children and youth are also discouraged to share revealing photos or use inappropriate screen names, not to “overshare” details about their lives and avoid joining groups that post nasty content.
SCP said that it will also conduct Cybersafe training to community leaders to ensure online sexual abuse and exploitation are prevented poor communities where the popular “Pisonet” machines are operating.
For SCP Child Protection Advisor Wilma Banaga, children and young people should also remember that there are people online who want to take advantage of them and they must be aware on how protect themselves.
“While we recognize that times are hard right now with many families suffering financially, parents should not forget their responsibility to protect their children from any kind of risk online or offline,” Banaga ended.