With the Philippines ranking as the number one hotspot of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC) and child sexual abuse and exploitation materials (CSAEM), students in Davao are speaking up and actively campaigning for digital protection and internet safety.
“My only hope for digital technology in the future is for it to be utilized properly to achieve a safer and more supportive cyberworld for all of us, most especially for the children who have been a target of online abuse and exploitation,” said Clifford, a member of the Association of Youth Child Rights Advocates of Davao City (ACAD), one of the youth groups organized by Save the Children Philippines.
To curb this silent pandemic, Save the Children Philippines advocated for the passage of Republic Act 11930 or the Anti-OSAEC-CSAEM Law in 2022 and its implementing rules and regulations in 2023.
“The enactment of the Anti-OSAEC-CSAEM Law is a step towards a stronger advocacy for child protection from all forms of violence,” said Save the Children Philippines CEO, Atty. Alberto Muyot.
“We call on the government and all sectors of society to work together in fully implementing the law to strengthen protective and legal services and to ensure that children are safe from OSAEC-CSAEM at all costs.”
Save the Children also implements child rights-based programs such as the Protect Children Philippines Project where school-based children and communities are trained to advocate and campaign against OSAEC-CSAEM. Many of those who were trained were able to establish child- and youth-led groups like ACAD, which have become safe spaces for children.
“ACAD is more than just a group of youth –we are a family. Save the Children provided a platform for us to learn from other young people who are passionate about protecting children and are willing to volunteer their time and skills to advocate for children’s rights. As cliché as it may sound, ACAD is the voice of the voiceless,” said Erica, an ACAD youth member and child rights advocate.
Save the Children also worked with the La Filipina National High School Supreme School Government and trained its core leaders to facilitate online courses on child rights and protection. The organization grew its constituency and even other schools replicated the interventions that led to the formation of the larger La Filipina Child Network (LCFN).
“Through this network, I am now confident to speak to other people, especially those older than me, about child rights, especially OSAEC,” said Chison, a trained child facilitator and member of LFCN.
The LCFN is conducting advocacy trainings and lobbying to strengthen OSAEC awareness and action at the SK Federation in the Province of Davao del Norte.
“I hope that the policy makers around the world, especially here in the Philippines would use their power in order to achieve a safer and better internet digital world for everyone,” said Clifford.