DSWD intensifies efforts to address online exploitation of children amid COVID-19
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The threat of COVID-19 has not diminished the commitment of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to address the online sexual abuse and exploitation of children.
Even during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the Department, together with partner agencies, continuously conducts dialogues and rescues to ensure the safety of Filipino children online and offline.
This is based on the fact that online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) is a growing crime that requires a coordinated global and national response, especially in these times when children are in lockdown with traffickers and offenders are spending more time online.
Efforts vs OSEC
To address OSEC in the country, DSWD is closely working with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to track and apprehend the perpetrators and rescue the victims of this heinous act. DSWD is also working with the local government units (LGUs), especially with the Local Councils for the Protection of Children (LCPCs), to increase awareness, prevention, and early detection of OSEC cases. Rescued OSEC victims are placed in DSWD custody and provided with psychosocial interventions.
As the lead agency in social protection, DSWD also provides assistance to trafficked persons under the Recovery and Reintegration Program for Trafficked Persons (RRPTP). In 2019, DSWD has served over 1,600 victims of trafficking of whom 1,297 were females and 395 were males.
DSWD also chairs the Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography (IACACP), created by virtue of RA 9775 or the “Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009.”
IACACP which comprises government agencies and non-government organizations actively advocates for the prevention of OSEC through various platforms, including the formulation of a National Response Plan (NRP) for Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) 2016-2020.
Based on the National Response Model Frame of the We Protect Global Alliance, the NRP serves as a guide for government agencies, LGUs, civil society organizations, private sectors and other stakeholders to address the gaps in prevention, responses, capacity building, policies and child protection mechanisms particular on OSAEC. In order to attain this task, the NRP had devised five Key Result Areas on Advocacy and Prevention, Law Enforcement and Prosecution, Protection, Recovery and Reintegration, Research and Management Information System, and Resource Mobilization and Partnership.
In this time of pandemic, the DSWD, as chair of IACACP, emphasized that it is even more crucial to closely monitor the safety of children even inside their homes.
It also encouraged the community to be vigilant and immediately report to the authorities all forms of abuses against children through the following hotlines;