Digital parenting seen as effective tool against online abuse of children

DAVAO CITY (PIA) — Digital parenting is being espoused to combat the increasing cases of Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) in the county.

The Regional Sub-Committee for the Welfare of Children (RSCWC) in Region XI reiterated the call of the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) to intensively engage parents and guardians of children on digital parenting.

RSCWC-XI regional coordinator Renee Boy Binondo cited this urgent need, saying “Because children are fully aware of how to utilize this worldwide web, internet, and technologies, gadgets, but our pitfall will always be our weakness – the parents cannot regulate.”

Although he said, “They [parents] can regulate gadgets, they can regulate Google app store, they can regulate the internet as soon as they provide these gadgets to their kids based on filtering also yung parental guidance even yung Netflix.”

Renee Boy Binondo, RSCWC-XI regional coordinator, emphasizes the need to strengthen digital parenting among parents and guardians to combat the increasing cases of OSAEC in the country.

The findings of the study of the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU), involving OSAEC victims in Davao City, also confirmed online sexual abuse and exploitation cases in the city, stressing certain gaming applications as among the platforms used.

“The shift of the mode of education, especially during the pandemic lahat tayo naka online, lahat ng estudyante naka online. And with that, mas nagiging may panahon to explore yung ating mga estudyante with the social media, looking different apps or applications in the internet and then with that kasi hindi naman kasi alam ng parents that these can cause vulnerability doon sa mga bata,” said AdDU lead researcher Maria Teresa dela Rosa during the one of the recent episodes of Kapihan sa PIA at NCCC Victoria Plaza Mall, Davao City.

Dela Rosa explained that these gaming applications seem to be normal at first glance, but when deeply explored, there are secret rooms or chat rooms, which predators use to prey on children, especially girls.

She said, “Ang akala lang kasi natin that these apps are very friendly to the children or to the students,” but when left unattended by parents or guardians, these children will fall on the predators, especially since children are very curious.

The gaming applications include Cybora, Red Room, Role Play, Roblox, and Inns, she disclosed.

Dela Rosa was alarmed by the involvement of some parents in the illegal acts of their children, especially among families living below the poverty line.

“Because of poverty napilitan talaga sila to engage to into OSAEC, and there are parents who allowed their children on sexual activities online,” Dela Rosa explained.

Binondo said that part of their efforts is the strengthened monitoring of parents and children in different barangays in the region as part of the implementation of the OSAEC law.

He said that they have increased the capacities of the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children for efficient and effective response whenever children are reporting abuses and exploitation.

Binondo added that they are stepping up their advocacy campaigns on parenting by offering various parenting services to all parents, especially those in the marginalized sector.

He said that they partnered with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), through the Pantawid Program’s Family Development Sessions, to capacitate and equip parents with proper information on OSAEC and what they can do to monitor their children’s online activity.

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Binondo said that their partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) for the protection of children in schools has yielded favorable results, following the establishment of the Learner Protection Office of every region, which will be responsible for overseeing all schools’ functionality of their child protection committee.

Binondo said they are also empowering the children themselves by expanding their competencies and instilling life skills, noting that “sila dapat ang magprotekta sa sarili nila because parents and teachers cannot follow them 27/4.”

In celebration of Children’s Month, Binondo said that they want to highlight the pivotal role of children’s participation in policy and decision-making, where “They can express and be heard. Sila mismo mo-istroya sa ilang issue. We really don’t want children to tell us, ‘Don’t talk about us without us.’”

Binondo emphasized that collaborative effort is necessary, especially since “abuses are happening online and offline, during times in school or at home or in the community,” and this is everyone’s responsibility and accountability, not just parents and stakeholders. (ASO/PIA-XI)

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