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Prevention education needed to help curb online sexual abuse

At the conclusion of the National Awareness Week for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, Senator Win Gatchalian underscored the need for a comprehensive “Human Trafficking Preventive Education Program” to help protect Filipino children and youth from online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC).


MANILA, Philippines – Children freely playing by a parked vehicle in Sta. Cruz district, 13 Nov. 2016 file. Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture chairman Senator Win Gatchalian is proposing a comprehensive Human Trafficking Preventive Education Program that will arm the youth with vital information and protection measures against online sexual exploitation and other forms of trafficking. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, said that this proposed program will arm the youth with vital information and protection measures against OSEC and other forms of trafficking. The lawmaker added that the program will put grassroots reporting mechanisms in place, which will empower communities to pursue decisive action against heinous criminals.

Research compiled in the United States Department of Labor’s report “2018 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor” show that the Philippines is the top global Internet source of OSEC. Victims of OSEC are induced to perform sex acts at the direction of paying customers, both foreigners and Filipinos, for live internet broadcasts set in small internet cafes, private homes, and “cybersex dens.”

Citing data from the International Justice Mission Philippines, the same report from the US Labor Department revealed that the median age of OSEC victims at the time of rescue was 12. In 2018, cybertips of sexual images of Filipino children reported to the Department of Justice’s Office of Cybercrime increased from 45,645 to at least 600,000, an increase of more than 1000 percent.

“Sa buong mundo, tayong mga Pilipino ang naglalaan ng pinkamaraming oras sa Internet at dahil din dito kaya ang ating bansa ang may pinakamaraming kaso ng online sexual abuse na sangkot ang mga bata. Nakakabahala ito kaya nais nating magkaroon ng programang magbibigay sa kanila ng proteksiyon at kaalaman para na rin sa lahat kung paano masugpo ang ganitong klaseng mga krimen,” said Gatchalian.

Gatchalian last year filed Senate Bill 735 or the Human Trafficking Preventive Education Program Act, which will orient the youth about their rights, government protection measures, and the dangers of trafficking’s different forms such as sexual exploitation and prostitution.

The proposed program has two components: the school-based and the community programs. The school-based program covers junior high schools, senior high schools, colleges and universities, and technical or vocational education programs. The community-based program, on the other hand, will be implemented at the barangay level.

The measure also assigns guidance counselors and support staff to identify and protect human trafficking victims, at-risk students, and at-risk out-of-school youth.