Following the news in social media of a toddler allegedly left unsupervised inside a car, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has already offered its counselling services to the child’s mother yesterday at the DSWD Central Office.

DSWD Secretary Virginia N. Orogo personally met with the child’s mother who was full of remorse for leaving her child alone.

The mother decided to meet with Sec. Orogo to explain what happened after she heard her in some media interviews.

The mother admitted that it was the first time that she left her toddler in the car and vowed never to do it again.

For her part, Sec. Orogo reiterated the necessity for parents to be more responsible and to ensure the safety and security of their children at all times.

“Parents have the utmost responsibility to take care of their children and provide them with proper love, attention, and support. They should always guarantee that the needs of their children are satisfied to ensure their holistic growth and to protect them from harm,” Sec. Orogo said.

She also appealed to the public that if an issue needs action from the DSWD, the members of the public can always directly message the agency through its social media pages and contact numbers to avoid creating trauma or misunderstandings caused by bashing in social media.

“It is not healthy to give early judgements because we should always look at both sides of the story. As responsible social media users, we need to learn to discern the truth, to be compassionate, and respectful,” she explained.

Sec. Orogo has already directed social workers of the DSWD to interview and counsel the child’s mother to assess her capacity to perform her parenting roles.

A series of home visit and follow up interviews with the mother including the child’s father and other relatives will also be held in the coming weeks to determine other interventions to be done.

“Our social workers will recommend to me whether there is a need to take custody of the child or to just strengthen counseling with the mother and father as parenting is their shared responsibility.  Our social workers who interviewed the mother are the best persons to determine if the mother can perform her role or not, based on the interviews and home visits,” she said.

Report child abuse

Meanwhile, Sec. Orogo also called on the public to immediately report child abuse cases to any of the following agencies: DSWD; Commission on Human Rights (CHR); Local Social Welfare and Development Office (LSWDO) of the municipality, city or province; Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) or other law enforcement agencies; Punong barangay, barangay kagawad or tribal leader; Any member of the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC); and Barangay help desk officer or Women and Children’s Protection Desk (WCPD) officer.

Violators will be penalized in accordance with the implementation of Republic Act. No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act with a penalty of imprisonment ranging from six (6) to twelve (12) years imprisonment.

Those who also failed to report a child abuse case may be penalized with a fine of not more than P2,000 or as may be determined by a court with jurisdiction.

If the abuse is committed, concerned agencies shall ensure the safety of the child including placing the child under protective custody, providing psychosocial interventions, granting physical, emotional and medical treatments, and filing of appropriate charges against the offender/s.

“We call on everyone to help us uphold the rights of children and to protect them from any form of abuse or violence. Let us help each other to make our country safe for our children and the future generation,” Sec. Orogo ended. ###