“It takes a world to end sexual exploitation of children”

Speech of DSWD Sec. Judy M. Taguiwalo
World Vision 60th Anniversary
March 23, 2017

Good morning to all of you and my most sincere congratulations to World Vision on its 60th anniversary! It is an honor to be here among all of you as World Vision launches its campaign “It Takes a World to End Sexual Exploitation of Children.” This is a very timely campaign given the continued proliferation of most disturbing reports about children falling victim to various incidents of sexual abuse and exploitation. World Vision is an organization that I am certain can and will do justice to this campaign, given its track record for advocating for the rights of children.

Efforts such as those of World Vision to document and monitor incidents of child abuse and other forms of violence against children should be lauded and duplicated. All of government agencies and networks tasked with the promotion and protection of children’s rights should continue to be active when it comes to monitoring the safety and welfare of Filipino children.

In the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), we call on our units to take a more pro-active role when it comes to reporting cases of child abuse and sexual exploitation. More importantly, we want to promote a mindset among Filipinos that child abuse and sexual exploitation of children is wrong and should not be allowed in a society that claims to have respect for children’s rights.

In 2015, child abuse cases nationwide numbered 4,374. In the first quarter of 2016 alone, reported cases are pegged at 2,147.  These figures are from the Policy Development and Planning Bureau, and all cases were handled by the DSWD through its centers as well as community-based services. Other statistics are worse. Globally there are around 75,000 child predators online, according to Terre des Hommes, many of them trying to contact children in the Philippines. In 2015, the Philippines Office of Cybercrime received 12,374 cyber tips from the US-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The number of criminal cases of live stream child abuse in the Philippines is rising, from 57 in 2013, to 89 in 2014, and 167 in 2015.

We cannot be indifferent to cases of sexual abuse and exploitation of children when we hear of them. Even if we are not directly related to children being abused, we must all the more stand on their behalf because, in many cases, those who should be protecting them have failed them, or even more tragically, they are the perpetrators of sexual exploitation and violence. As we always tell the public through our various social media accounts, incidents of child abuse including sexual exploitation of children may be reported to the DSWD, barangay offices, the police, or other concerned agencies or non-governmental organizations working on children’s welfare. We also make it known that children themselves may file the complaint, or on their behalf, their parents, guardians, relatives, social workers, the barangay chairperson, or at least three concerned citizens may do so.

But we are also aware that while abuse of children cut across all socioeconomic classes, children from poor families including those from migrant families are more vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse. Hence, our efforts at working for a safe world for all children means advocating for socioeconomic reforms that strike at the roots of poverty—genuine land reform, national industrialization, ending ENDO, free health care and education, among others.

In closing, I would like to unite with all of you in this collective vision: no child should be a victim of abuse and exploitation. We must give our support to projects that work with preventive efforts, as well as those that aim to assist children who have been abused and exploited. To prevent neglect and different forms of abuse, it is important to support early intervention initiatives. It is also very important to increase the knowledge and awareness of sexual exploitation and abuse and the rights of the child among children, parents, and those who work in close proximity to children.

Again, congratulations to World Vision on its 60th anniversary! Let us all work together to fight sexual exploitation of children!