'Amid prevalence of online sexual abuse of children, parents must brush up on internet use'


Posted at Feb 18 2023 09:18 AM

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MANILA - As the Philippines remains the top source globally of child sexual abuse and exploitation materials, an advocacy group said Saturday parents or guardians of minors must also improve on their knowledge and skills on internet use.

Allan Nunez, Advocacy Specialist of ChildFund Philippines, said that with children now being regarded as “native online citizens” or “digital natives”, making them vulnerable to online sexual exploitation, their parents or guardians should catch up so they can provide proper guidance.

“Payo ko sa mga magulang, ‘wag nating gawing kaaway ang internet. Dapat yung digital divide, i-address natin. Ngayon, mas techie na mga bata, dapat sabayan natin (sila),” Nunez told ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.

“Imbes na pagbawalan natin sila sa internet, pag-aralan natin paano nagwo-work ang internet para masubaybayan natin ang ginagawa nila at sa ganung paraan, maprotektahan natin sila,” he added.

(My advice to parents is not to be averse to the internet. We should instead address the digital divide. Now that kids are more techie, we should catch up with them. Instead of prohibiting children from accessing the internet, let us study how the internet works so we can properly watch over our kids online and protect them.)

Nunez said half of the 44 million internet users in the Philippines are aged 17 and below. Globally, some 800 million children are active on social media, he added.

Unfortunately, sexual exploitation of children online have also become prevalent, with reports of the so-called “Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Materials” shooting up to 21.7 million in 2020.

“Nakakabahala na,” said Nunez as he bared that it represents a 20 percent rise from the 1 million in 2019, and even way higher than the 3,000 figure a decade ago.

(It’s very concerning.)

“Pilipino yung ideal targets ng mga sexual predators lurking online… Pilipinas ang nanatiling top global source ng child sexual abuse materials,” he added.

(Filipinos are the ideal targets of sexual predators lurking online… The Philippines remains the top global source of children sexual abuse materials.)

Nunez lamented that aside from the existence of the dark web which is a platform for those engaged in the crime amid efforts of authorities against it, the monetary offer lures some parents and guardians with the mindset that there is no physical contact anyway.

The cases spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic as more kids went online and their guardians lost their jobs, he noted.

Nunez said that even with the passage of Republic Act 11930 or the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children last year, parents must take an active role in the fight against the crime.

He encourages open communication and constructive dialogue between children and their parents, and the latter to set good example in terms of internet use and behavior on social media.