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Higher risk of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children during quarantine

SaferKidsPH promotes child online safety in support of the national COVID-19 response

Press Release
April 17, 2020

MANILA – SaferKidsPH, a consortium of Save the Children Philippines, The Asia Foundation and UNICEF, and funded by the Australian Government, is expanding its efforts to protect children against online sexual abuse and exploitation during the COVID-19 enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

While online platforms are used for positive learning and socialising, they can also expose children to cyberbullying, online sexual abuse and exploitation, and other forms of harm. These risks are greater during the quarantine period, as children spend more time online, with or without the guidance of a parent or carer.

Starting April 15, SaferKidsPH in collaboration with the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the National Telecommunications Commission, Smart Communications, and Globe Telecom will launch an SMS campaign focusing on practical child online safety measures that can be used during the COVID-19 ECQ. Mobile subscribers will be invited to visit the platforms of SaferKidsPH and UNICEF for more information.

During this enhanced community quarantine, children could be at a higher risk of being exposed to online predators. But this is not the only threat. Unfortunately, most cases of online sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines involve parents or family members as facilitators. As the country bunkers down to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, more children could be subject to exploitation in their own homes.

Brigadier General Alessandro C. Abella, Chief of the Philippine National Police-Women and Children Protection Center (PNP-WCPC), said that during the lockdown, his staff will continue to receive, monitor, and respond to online sexual abuse and exploitation of children-related reports. “Even in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the PNP-WCPC continues to be aggressive in its fight against online sexual exploitation of children,” he said.

For more information on how to stay safe online and how you can help stop online sexual exploitation of children, please visit www.saferkidsph.org. You may also follow SaferKidsPH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

For further support, you can call the following helplines:
1) PNP Aleng Pulis - +63 919 777 7377
2) Action Against Human Trafficking - 1343 within Metro Manila; (02) 1343 outside Metro Manila
3) Bantay Bata - 163
4) UP-PGH COVID-19 Bayanihan Operations Center - 155 200 or https://publicservice.up.edu.ph/uppgh-bayanihan-na.

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