The Department of Education directed public and private elementary and high schools to establish and strengthen child protection committees to help address online sexual abuse and exploitation of children, and reports of rampant child pornography online during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The DepEd expressed alarm over the increasing cases of child abuse and exploitation, including reports of students selling videos and photos to support their education.
It reminded the public that such abuse and exploitation are prohibited under existing laws such as the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 and the CyberCrime Prevention Act of 2012.
Child protection committees will allow schools to proactively initiate information dissemination programs and organize activities for the protection of children, as mandated by the child protection policy of 2012. The DepEd noted that rising cases of child exploitation and abuse call for better collaboration and cooperation among national agencies and local communities, especially during the pandemic.
A report of the Anti-Money Laundering Council has revealed that P113.1 million worth of suspicious transactions related to child pornography were reported in the first half of last year. The National Bureau of Investigation has also initiated an investigation over reports of students selling sensual videos online.
The pandemic has made life difficult for many, and although the DepEd has tried to keep the costs of distance learning low, economically struggling children continue to be vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, especially during these difficult times. Filipino society will need stronger child protection committees and other government and private sector initiatives to shield Filipino children from the unscrupulous monsters taking advantage of the pandemic to prey upon the weak.*