Social media influencers take on challenge to be Creators #ForEveryChild to protect children from online abuse and exploitation

As the country wraps up this year’s Safer Internet Month, UNICEF Philippines awarded the first-ever annual badge of recognition to digital influencers who accepted the challenge to be Creators #ForEveryChild. They have lent their unique creative platforms and reach to fight for the rights of every child in the country, especially the most vulnerable to online abuse and exploitation.

The Creators #ForEveryChild –  AJ Bacar, Anina Rubio, Buji Babiera, Cat Triviño, Ginger Arboleda, Inka Magnaye, Jing Ruiz, Karl Bautista, Raco Ruiz, Reb Atadero, Riyan Portuguez – received the badge and certificates of appreciation during the Safer Internet Convention on Digital Responsibility held by UNICEF today. These influencers’ have contributed to ending online sexual abuse and exploitation of children, including abusive and exploitative materials. This is very timely, as most Philippine children and young people look up – some of them exclusively – to social media influencers for informative content.

This year’s theme calls on everyone to prevent this scrouge and work with Government to step up implementation of Republic Act 11930, otherwise known as the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children and Anti-Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Material Act, that strengthens the country’s response and protection of children to online predators. According to a UNICEF-ECPAT-Interpol Disrupting Harm study, 20 per cent of children, 12 to 17, reported being victims of this abuse in 2021. Unfortunately, due to stigma, disclosure is disproportionately low – despite various reporting channels. Only 0-4 per cent of victims ever reported, and only 0-3 per cent know how to report to the police or to helplines.

The convention was attended by close to 100 children and youth who co-developed a Digital Responsibility Programme which aims to increase the capacity and protective behavior of learners and teachers in navigating online and digital platforms. It was organized by the Positive Youth Development Network, the Department of Education and the local government units of Valenzuela City and Angeles City with UNICEF support.

UNICEF Philippines underscores the importance of adults and children in growing their understanding of their digital responsibility. Safer internet Month is helping build youth, parent and caregiver’s digital literacy or the skills they need to live, learn, and work in a society where information is increasingly channeled through digital technology and social media. Ultimately, the collective effort will maximize the positive experience that children and young people can get from the internet, while preventing all forms of online abuse and exploitation.