As the country transitions into digital learning, the Department of Education (DepEd) on Wednesday assured that safety nets and other measures will be in place to ensure that children are protected in the cyberworld.
“A child in the cyber world is a whole person with dignity as much as a child in the physical world. We should thus respect and protect every child wherever he or she may be,” DepEd said in a statement.
DepEd also reiterated its commitment to protect children against all forms of abuse as it welcomed the public advisory on the conduct of online classes using video conferencing services issued by the Department of Justice Office of Cybercrime dated Sept. 22.
The DepEd has been promoting the right of the child against all forms of violence and abuse through its Child Protection Policy under DepEd Order No. 40 series of 2012. “The policy aims to nurture learners in a safe environment not only in the physical sphere but also cyberspace,” it added.
Acknowledging that the cyberworld offers limitless opportunities for learning and provides valuable avenues for communication and socialization, DepEd also recognizes that there are “threats and dangers to the privacy, security, and safety of children in the cyberworld” – especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
DepEd said that it has been collaborating with its various partners to step up efforts to address various online or cyber risks. This is done through the development of cyber safety lesson plans, the conduct of cyber safety trainings, and dissemination of awareness and advocacy materials.
“We need a whole-of-society approach, not just school interventions, to effectively and consistently overcome the attacks on the dignity and safety of the child in the cyberworld,” it added.
Meanwhile, the Save the Children Philippines (SCP) warned the public against participating in trending online challenges such as #dropyourbeautifuldaughterchallenge and other related hashtags which might expose children to online predators.
The SCP expressed concern on the online behavior of digital users posting photos of young girls – including babies – through these trending challenges which already gained half a million responses. This, SCP, said “may put children in danger” of online sexual abuse and exploitation.
“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 SCP Chief Executive Officer Atty. Alberto Muyot.
Muyot, a former Undersecretary of the Department of Education (DepEd), said that 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.”