The Department of Education (DepED), under the leadership of Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte, has strengthened further its efforts to protect learners from abuse, violence, and exploitation.
“Child protection is really close to my heart,” said Duterte during the culminating program of the 30th National Children’s Month (NCM) on Thursday, Nov. 24.
Recognizing the importance of celebrating NCM, Duterte said that the DepED would continue to ensure that children will have a “safe space”, especially in schools.
As part of its efforts to provide safe spaces for learners, Duterte said that the DepEd has formally launched the “Learner Rights and Protection Office” website and a national hotline.
Duterte explained that the hotline called the “Learners Telesafe Contact Center Helpline” will allow the agency to receive child protection complaints from learners through landlines, e-mail, and messages through our Facebook page.
Likewise, Duterte said that this month, the first batch of focal persons in the Central Offices, Regional Offices, and Schools Division Offices attended a Child Protection Specialization Course.
“These Child Protection Specialists will, in turn, capacitate the Child Protection Committee in schools,” Duterte said. “The presence of this committee in schools will strengthen our learner’s faith in our school’s capacity to protect them,” she added.
DepEd, she added, will also teach learners to “know about safety threats, how to respond to the threats, and to whom they should call or communicate when threats happen.”
Duterte noted that the “Learners TeleSafe Contact Center Helpline” will also address child abuse victims’ concerns, such as a possible backlash, victim shaming, or harsh physical punishment.
“Pwede pong tawagan ang helpline sa pamamagitan ng landline at cellphone o i-text. Pwede ring mag-email o magpadala ng message sa Facebook. (You can call the helpline via landline and cellphone or text. You can also email or send a message on Facebook),” she said.
Moving forward, Duterte also shared that the Rights and Protection Office intends to launch a podcast, videocast, and other projects and activities, including additional eLearning courses in partnership with the Stairway Foundation Inc., and Child Protection Network.
“We look forward to working with our education champions, barangay leaders, civil society partners, and fellow child protection advocates to strengthen our Learners TeleSafe Contact Center Helpline, provide immediate assistance to our learner-victims, and bolster our existing intervention mechanism and referral system,” she ended.