MANILA - Save the Children Philippines warned parents and guardians on Wednesday against trending online challenges involving their children as these can put them at risk of online sexual abuse and exploitation.
The group sounded the alarm as online challenges, like the #dropyourbeautifuldaughterchallenge, that ask users to post photos of their children, have already gained half a million responses.
"We call on parents and guardians to be at the forefront of fulfilling the right of children to be protected from online sexual abuse and exploitation by using social media responsibly and teaching children the proper and safe use of the internet,” said Atty. Alberto Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines.
“Even if the images posted are not sexual in nature and content, there is still a risk that these can be used by online predators for untoward purposes,” he said.
Wilma Banaga, Child Protection Adviser of Save the Children Philippines, said it is important for parents and guardians to be careful in posting images of their children online since they cannot be sure about how these can be used by others.
“It is advisable that parents respectfully monitor their children’s online activities and to be good role models in using the internet and social media,” she said.
"While we are proud of our children and would love to share beautiful pictures of them, let us be more cautious in joining online challenges that may jeopardize their welfare," Muyot said.
According to Save the Children, the Philippines is currently the global epicenter of online sexual abuse and exploitation, with photos of Filipino children found in digital platforms being used by sexual predators.
The group said that in 2017, the Office of Cybercrime of the Department of Justice (DOJ) received more than 45,000 tip-offs about sexual images of Filipino children from the US-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
The number has since increased to 600,000 in 2019.
Save the Children Philippines is part of the consortium implementing the SaferKidsPH program together with the Asia Foundation and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
SaferKidsPH, an Australian Government initiative, is working towards reducing online sexual abuse and exploitation (OSAEC) of children in the Philippines.