MANILA – The Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday urged schools to strengthen their child protection committees (CPC) following reports that some students have been selling sexy photos and videos of themselves online to support their studies.
“We enjoin all public and private elementary and secondary schools to establish and strengthen their respective Child Protection Committees,” the agency said in a statement.
“These CPCs must proactively initiate information dissemination programs and organize activities for the protection of children,” it added.
Under the DepEd’s child protection policy, all public and private elementary and secondary schools are required to establish a CPC to ensure child protection and safety.
CPCs are tasked to identify and report to appropriate offices cases involving child abuse, exploitation, violence, discrimination and bullying, among other functions.
The DepEd said it created child protection units in its central, regional and division offices to support CPCs in schools.
The department made the statement a day after Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian raised concerns over the rising cases of alleged online sexual exploitation of children.
Gatchalian cited a report by news portal Philippine Online Student Tambayan (POST) which revealed that students held an online “Christmas sale” of their “sensual” photos and videos so they could buy gadgets and pay internet bills in support of their distance learning.
The education department said it is “deeply alarmed” over the POST report, adding that it would “fully cooperate” with other government agencies to prevent and address pornography among learners.
“Still, these rising cases of child exploitation and abuse call for better collaboration and cooperation among national agencies and local communities, especially in these difficult times,” the DepEd said.
The agency reiterated that gadgets and internet connection are not requirements for distance learning.
“Depending on the available resources, public schools are also implementing other alternative distance learning modalities such as modular, radio, and TV-based instruction,” it said.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has instructed the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the reports of students’ online sale of sexy photos and videos of themselves.
In May last year, the Department of Justice said reports of online sexual exploitation of children in the country spiked by over 260 percent during the COVID-19 lockdown.