Over 1,800 cases of abuse against children have been reported to the Department of Education (DepEd) from 2019 to 2022, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte on Thursday, Nov. 24, said.
“As of October 2022, DepEd’s Learner Rights and Protection Office recorded 1,871 child abuse cases from 2019 to 2020,” Duterte said during her keynote speech for the culminating program of the 2022 National Children’s Month (NCM).
Duterte requested the Child Protection Unit (CPU) to submit a report of the total number of reported cases of abuse committed against children from DepEd offices across the country.
However, she noted that the data gathered by DepED is “only the tip of the iceberg” because it does not include figures from 10 regions that “have yet to submit their reports.”
Hoping to get more reports on abuses against children or learners, DepED has launched a national helpline.
Citing a report from the Preda Foundation which is a charitable organization dedicated to protecting the rights of women and children, Duterte noted that “one in every three or four children experience some acts of sexual abuse” before they reach 18.
“The report was deeply heartbreaking,” Duterte said, noting that in cases of sexual violence, “we know that, often, victims would rather suffer in silence and endure the abuse and hope it stops.”
Despite this, Duterte said she was “happy that DepEd, that we, are taking strides in the campaign to end violence and sexual abuse in schools.”
As part of DepEd’s efforts to protect the children, Duterte enjoined teachers and non-teaching personnel to help the learners — especially those that were victims of abuse.
“At dahil ang mga suspek ay mga katrabaho natin sa gobyerno, mas kailangan ng mga biktima ang ating support (And since the suspects are our colleagues in the government, the victims need our support even more),” she said.
Meanwhile, Duterte assured that DepEd will “ensure a safe and nurturing learning environment by strengthening child protection mechanisms in schools.”