The COVID-19 pandemic is putting children at risk of violence. Factors brought about by the pandemic such as increasing poverty, loss of livelihood, and isolation at home heightens the risk of physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children.
The Philippines has become a hotspot for online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC), a grave form of violence against children. According to a recently released study from International Justice Mission, the country is the largest source of child sexual exploitation materials globally, and it is usually a family-based crime with 41% of reported cases perpetrated by the children’s biological parents and 42% by other relatives. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice recently announced that reports of OSEC increased by an alarming 264% amid the country’s battle against COVID-19, which they attribute to home quarantine and the surge of internet use.
The risks are further aggravated by lack of children’s awareness on where and how to report abuse. A World Vision Philippines rapid assessment on COVID-19 impact to communities showed that about 19% of children surveyed are not aware of any service providers they can report to if they experience abuse.
The Philippine Government has achieved progress in creating programs and policies that will protect children. However, more needs to be done keep children safe. Through its online global petition, World Vision calls on governments and other stakeholders to address the impact of COVID-19 to children by increasing funding for social services such as health and education, especially for the most vulnerable children and their families. Aside from increased funding, World Vision Philippines also advocates for:
• Strict implementation of child protection laws, and revising them when needed to adapt to rapidly changing technological landscape and emerging challenges;
• Investing in interventions that promote shifts in social attitudes and norms that condone violence; and
• Involving children in the development of programs and policies that affect them.
World Vision believes that a world without violence against children is possible, but it takes a world to end violence against children. Show your support by signing the global petition here.
“Let us all protect our children. Let us keep them away from any abuses because World Vision believes that every child deserves a childhood surrounded by protective families and communities, free from violence, with opportunity to thrive and experience [the] abundant life Jesus promised” – Josua, WV registered child.