The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is calling for the protection of students from all kinds of abuse and exploitation as well as support for teachers who have transitioned to online schooling.
The CHR said the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) health crisis has affected both teachers and students alike, with 28 million Filipino learners in different academic levels forced to stay at home and comply with health quarantine measures.
This situation has put a strain on students’ social, economic, and digital inequalities, so much so that there were even reports of an alleged “Christmas
sale” of sensual photos and videos by students on social media websites for as little as P150 just so they can raise funds for distance learning-related expenses.
The CHR added that there has been an increasing trend of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC), which the Department of Justice (DOJ) found to have spiked by over 260 percent during the COVID-19 lockdowns. The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) likewise found that suspicious transactions involving child pornography doubled last year from P65.8 million in 2019 to P113.1 million in the first half of 2020.
“Protection of young people from all forms of abuse is among the obligations of the state,” said CHR Spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia. “A holistic approach in ensuring the protection of children from all forms of abuse also includes ensuring that they are well-informed of their rights and that they receive proper psychosocial support from their teachers and parents.”
The CHR has called on the Department of Education (DepEd) and schools to continue to ramp up the efforts of Child Protection Committees (CPC) tasked to identify cases of child abuse.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), meanwhile, has been urged to remain vigilant in ensuring that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) block access to all websites carrying child pornography materials. “Failure of ISPs or reluctance to comply with measures that combat online sexual exploitation of children must be sanctioned,” De Guia said.
As for the teachers, the CHR said that the government should ensure that they are provided with communication allowances and that they are reimbursed in a timely manner to make them more capable to deal with the challenges of distance learning.
“For those pursuing learning offline due to limits in internet connectivity, the delivery of modules should be done more efficiently without compromising the teachers’ safety towards guaranteeing that every child with no access to the internet is not deprived of education,” said De Guia.