Child abuse and the pandemic

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    ‘Well, it is good to hear words of assurances from our officials and line departments, vowing to do their jobs, but the reports are much too divergent from reality that many cannot help but be skeptical.’

    THE onset of the COVID-19 pandemic upended the normal life of the nation, so much so that there is now a wide acceptance of the so-called new normal, a way of life where the coronavirus is already factored in.

    Most affected by the pandemic is the system of family and social relationships, and the change is not limited to “distancing.” The closure of whole streets and barangays, residential compounds and apartment buildings, is too distressing for some people, and children who are forced to stay at home day in and day out are doubly hit. While the children’s natural makeup is to roam free, play and interact with friends and family members, study thru face-to-face learning in school, etc., they are confined within the four walls of the house. And if the house’s occupants are not upright and prone to lowlife ways, woe to the child who has nowhere else to stay.

    Reports confirm that the lockdowns and various forms of community quarantine have exacerbated the abuses that many children suffer. This happened despite a number of laws passed by previous Congresses and Presidents, all upholding the rights of children.

    The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which is chair of the Inter-Agency Council against Child Pornography, has urged its local counterparts in cities and towns all over the country to pull their resources and personnel together to mount a serious offensive against pornography in the internet, some materials of which involved children.

    The DSWD said local authorities have the organization down to the barangay level to make a difference in this mission. They, too, have been provided enough laws and ordinances to back them up in this fight, among them the Anti-Child Abuse Law (RA 7610), Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 (RA 9775), Anti-Violence against Women and Children Act of 2004 (RA 9262) and the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012 (RA 9208 and RA 10364).

    The social welfare department vowed that even with the ongoing epidemic, their effort and commitment to fight online and offline sexual abuse and exploitation of children has not diminished.

    Well, it is good to hear words of assurances from our officials and line departments, vowing to do their jobs, but the reports are much too divergent from reality that many cannot help but be skeptical.

    The inter-agency panel that the DSWD heads should come up with concrete results, such as the numbers and details of convicted cases. This should affirm or deny their claim of accomplishments in fighting child abuse, not just child pornography.