Protecting children from abuses in the midst of COVID-19
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, WV volunteer Ruchie does not waiver in her advocacy to keep children protected. With limited mobility, she finds ways to connect with families to monitor the situation of the children. Since the community quarantine was imposed, she would usually check on the children through text, call or social media.
“It comes natural. I am a World Vision child monitor and was trained on helping check and ensure that the children under our care are safe,” she says.
Ruchie is aware of the children’s vulnerability in these times, not just to the coronavirus but also to different forms of abuses. She is one of the more than 55 leaders in her community who was trained on child protection, including reporting and responding to child protection incidents.
“Children are now out of school and with the community quarantine, they are required to stay at home. This is a good move to stop the spread of COVID-19 but this can also be a threat to children whose caretakers are abusive,” she says.
The 2016 National Baseline Survey on Violence Against Children in the Philippines revealed that there is a high prevalence of physical, psychological, sexual and online violence committed on Filipino children.
Three out five children have experienced any form of physical abuse, more than half of the cases happened at home. The same statistics applies to psychological abuse where children have either been verbaly abused, threatened or abandoned by their guardians.
In 2019, the department of social welfare and development reported 100 online sexual exploitation against children (OSEC) cases and 128 human trafficking cases in Northern Mindanao alone.
“Fortunately, there are no cases of abuses in our community since the COVID-19 pandemic started but we should not be complacent,” says Ruchie.
Ruchie is hopeful that the pandemic will soon pass but she hopes, above all else, that children will come out of this difficult times unscathed by the virus and by the threats of abuses. World Vision also continues to work with different child-focused groups and alliances to push for initiatives that will further protect the rights of the children amids COVID-19. It also banks on the gains from its development works in different parts of the country, training community leaders, including parents and children on how to report abuse incidents and helping strengthen barangay council for the protetcion of children (BCPC).