Online sexual abuse of children in PH worsens amid coronavirus pandemic

Published October 26, 2021, 2:06 PM

by Jaleen Ramos

In observance of the 2021 National Children’s Month (NCM), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) assured it will continue to address the needs and rights of the children amid the coronavirus pandemic.


During the Talakayan Makabata 2021 virtual forum on Tuesday, Oct. 26, DSWD Assistant Secretary Glenda Relova discussed the efforts and interventions on children’s right protection as the online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC) cases in the country have worsened during the pandemic.

“Ito ang isa sa pinakamalaking nakita namin na epekto ng pandemic since ang mga bata ay nasa loob lamang ng pamamahay. Yung accessibility nila sa mga gadgets, tumaas ang datos natin dito sa tinatawag nating OSAEC (This is one of the biggest pandemic impact we’ve seen since children are just inside the household. Their accessibility to gadgets, increased our data here in the so -called OSAEC),” she said.

“It is a complex phenomenon that needs to be tackled from a multi-level and multi disciplinary approach through the concerted efforts of different governments at the national and local level. [It] also includes the non government agencies, organizations and inter-agency councils,” Relova added.

Among the factors that enable OSAEC are poverty, free online connectivity, widespread use of cellphones, irresponsible use of technology, and insufficient computer literacy of children and their parents pose threats of exposure to OSAEC-related activities, she noted.

Relova also pointed that OSAEC activities are borderless and can be done regardless if online or offline, with the use of child sexual abuse materials.

“Minsan ang perpetrator ay nasa ibang bansa yung mga bata andito sa Pilipinas. (Sometimes the perpetrator is in another country and the children are here in the Philippines) So it defies borders, so international ito,” she added.

“Hindi totoo na kakaunti lang ang biktima ng OSAEC which is 64. Ito yung nakakalungkot dahil pandemya, nahihirapan sila maka-access sa government, yung maaaring makatulong sa kanila, kasi ‘yung restriction in mobility (It is not true that there are only a few victims of OSAEC which is 64. This is unfortunate, because of the pandemic they have difficulty accessing the government, the ones that can help them, because of the restriction in mobility),” Relova stressed.

According to the OSAEC 2021 National Study, online payments facilities offered by banks and electronic services by mobile phone companies are surfacing as the new mode of monetary exchange for the conduct of OSAEC-related activities.

It also added that cultural beliefs and social norms that ‘there is no touch, no harm” done to a victim-survivor are also factors of the continued worsening of sexual abuse cases in the country.

Relova, meanwhile, assured that several programs and services for children are being offered to ensure their safety including the Recovery and Reintegration Program for Trafficked Persons; Comperehensive Program for Children in Street Situations; Adoption and Foster Care; Center and Residential Care Services; Minors Traveling Abroad (MTA); and Strategic Helpdesks Information, Education, Livelihood and Other Development Interventions (SHIELD) Against Child Labor Program.

This year’s theme of the NCM is “New Normal na Walang Iwanan: Karapatan ng Bawat Bata Ating Tutukan!” which “aims to give attention to the difficulties experienced by children in the new normal setting such as concerns on their rights to survival, development, protection, and participation.”