‘Danger is very real’: DepEd calls for more protection for children in cyberspace

Published February 28, 2022, 1:13 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Education Secretary Leonor Briones underscored the greater need to protect learners from all forms of abuse — especially those that may take place online.

(Photo from Unsplash)

“The danger is very real. I’m not speaking from [or] just reading statistical reports on how children are harmed,” Briones said during the first Safer Internet Day Philippines (SIDPh) celebration on Monday, Feb. 28.

Briones noted that in 2016, the National Baseline Study of Violence Against Children noted that “almost one in two children” in the country have experienced some form of cyberbullying — whether online sexual exploitation or threats and all sorts of threatening situations.

The 2021 Philippines Kids Online study, Briones said, also indicated that one in two children “do not feel safe” online.

“I know concrete examples of very, very young children who are lured into practices, into ideas which start in cyberspace and end up with physical as well as face-to-face meetings with those who will dare to abuse them and put other negative thoughts in their mind especially as they are learning,” Briones said.

She also pointed out concrete cases of children who are “seduced by very much older people just because they happen to wander into a particular space on the Internet and get entangled with those who dare to abuse them, those who dare to be subjected to cyber violence.”

Briones said that DepEd has been strengthening its efforts to protect children against all forms of abuse — especially online.

“We must remember that at the end of the day, our objective is the protection of our children, our objective is to keep them safe from harm and to prevent them ever, ever getting into trouble with those who will dare to harm them,” Briones said.

In celebration of SIDPh 2022, DepEd — through its Child Protection Unit (CPU) — organized the webinar with the theme “CRC Next Level: Click, Respect, Connect, Ligtas na Ugnayan Online.”

This year’s SIDPh focused on child safeguarding in schools, promoting child online protection and digital literacy in the school environment.