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Cyber-protection for children

Monday 14 December 2015, by SIGNIS

Cebu City, Brussels, December 14th, 2015 (ANS /SIGNIS). A two-day international conference “Ako Para sa Bata” (I am for the child) was organized at Cebu City on 1-2 December 2015, focusing on cyber-protection of children. More than 900 stakeholders coming from government officials, law enforcers, social workers and educators attended the event sponsored by the Child Protection Network (CPN), a non-government organization whose work centers on increasing the accessibility of services for abused children nationwide.

The theme of the conference was cyber-protection of children. The wide use of the internet and mobile devices provides endless entertainment but also makes youth and children vulnerable victims to abuse and exploitation.

The Forum included plenary sessions in the morning that gave an overview of the cyber-culture both domestic and global on online child abuse and exploitation. The UNICEF research on online child protection was also presented. The afternoon sessions had a wider scope of topics which included sessions on cyber-bullying, online solicitation and pornography, good parenting in the cyber-age, efforts to fight online child abuse, Internet addiction as well as laws against cyber-crime which need to be upgraded.

Speakers of the conference came from different fields of expertise. In his speech, Ricardo Paras Jr., chief state counsel of the Department of Justice (DOJ), said one of 1,500 youths surveyed admitted to being exposed to online pornography. Dorothy Rozga, executive director of ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes), said 1.8 billion pornographic photos are uploaded every day and 270,000 of these involve minors. Supt. Maria Ivy Castillo of the Anti-Cybercrime Group said the Philippines have one of the highest rates of sextortion cases worldwide.

Among the resource speakers was also Fr. Fidel Orendain, SDB who talked about the “Challenges of Cyber-culture to Education and on the Filipino Family.” Besides being one of the speakers, he was also part of the organizing team of the conference. Representatives from the different Salesian centres were among the participants in the conference including Salesians, lay mission partners, aspirants and youth.

Quoting from Dr. Emma Llanto, a pediatrician, “it takes a whole village to protect our children.” Hence different agencies need to get involved like doctors, police, social workers, educators and parents which expand the child protection network in society.

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