DepEd receives two thumbs up for establishing Child Protection Unit during pandemic
SOCIALWATCH PHILS·JULY 18, 2021
Contact Person: Maria Luz Anigan
Contact Details 0947-635-1852
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The Department of Education DepEd Philippines got two thumbs up from the hundred-strong network of civil society groups, Social Watch Philippines, for establishing an agency Child Protection Unit as the country faces the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic.
“The DepEd’s move is absolutely necessary especially at this time of pandemic where violence against children is getting worse and also gives more spaces for violence that may be committed online,” said Social Watch Coordinator Janet Carandang.
“Even before the pandemic, the Philippines’ statistics were already showing the dismal situation of violence against children, and it got worse during lockdowns. The DepEd’s action shows the World that the Philippines is sincerely committed to ending violence against children through multisectoral actions in the midst of a pandemic,” Carandang added.
Based on the 2015 National Baseline Survey on Violence Against Children (VAC) in the Philippines, about 88 per cent of Filipino children have experienced violence at home, in school, in the community and online. It is alarming to note the rising cases of violence against children during the lockdown, with already 2,077 reported cases of violence against children in the first three months of the lockdown because of the COVID-19.
“The challenge for DepEd is to ensure that the Child Protection Unit is also able to monitor, issue policies, and initiate inter-agency actions to address the incidence of bullying in schools in the context of the New Normal, including cyberbullying and violence experienced by children online or in social media,” added Maria Luz Anigan, head of SWP’s Child Protection.
Social Watch Philippines emphasized that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries’ average on bullying in schools is 23%, but its 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment results revealed that, in the Philippines, about 65% of students reported that they are experiencing bullying in schools. “The DepEd should not stop monitoring incidences of bullying among students even with online or distance education in the times of COVID-19,” Anigan said.
Meanwhile, SWP also emphasized that the DepEd Child Protection Unit should also have interventions to address violence committed against children when they are at home. “We all know that the children exposed to violence at home are at risk of delayed cognitive development, nutrition and mental health problems, and interpersonal and self-directed violence. This will result to higher chances of not completing education,” Anigan lamented.
“Meanwhile, access to the education system, with a Child Protection Unit in place, is the children’s entry point to mental health, nutrition, counseling and other support programs as well as inter-agency interventions towards ending the violence being committed against the student at home,” she explained.
SWP also said that the Philippines should seriously take its commitment in the World Health Assembly (WHA) Resolution on Ending Violence Against Children Through Health Systems Strengthening and Multisectoral Approaches. Among the actions agreed upon by WHO Member States during the May 2021 WHA is to support coordinated efforts across all sectors to train and equip, among others teachers and school administrators, to prevent, identify and respond to violence against children, especially adolescent girls. The WHA emphasized that trafficking in persons, child labour and unintended pregnancies may lead to girls leaving school before the completion of their education and never returning to school as a result.
“We call for a Whole-of-Government Approach in reinforcing the new Child Protection Unit, and to make sure that it is fully funded so that it is functional and able to target the root cause of violence at the level of the student,” Carandang added. Based on the Global Status Report on Preventing Violence Against Children, the government agencies on health, social welfare, justice and interior and local government are the most frequently listed actors for addressing VAC.
“We give two thumbs up for the establishment of the DepEd’s Child Protection Unit during the pandemic. However, we know that this Unit could not do it alone. We ask that the national government consider as extremely urgent the need for multi sectoral policies and actions to address the urgent challenge of ensuring that the New Normal is not resulting in more violence committed against the students,” said Anigan. ##
About Social Watch Philippines
Social Watch Philippines (SWP), is a network of a hundred civil society organizations advocating for transparent, efficient, accountable and pro-poor use of public funds.
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