As the lead agency responsible for the protection of children, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reiterated its call to the public to uphold children’s rights.
“Gusto po natin ng isang lipunan kung saan ang karapatan ng mga batang Pilipino ay iginagalang at pinoprotektahan. Hindi namin ito magagawa kung walang mga taong tutulong upang proteksyunan ang kaligtasan nila (We want to promote a society where the rights of Filipino children are respected and protected. We cannot do this alone without the help of citizens who are concerned for our children’s welfare),” DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said.
The DSWD, under the leadership of Sec. Taguiwalo, is currently intensifying its programs against child abuse in the country. These include information dissemination measures against child abuse and of implementation of psychosocial interventions geared towards the recovery, healing and reintegration of victims-survivors.
In the first quarter of 2016, DSWD has already received 2,147 cases of child abuse in the country. Sexual abuse has the highest number of reported cases with 539 complaints followed by neglect (514 cases), abandonment (487 cases), sexual exploitation (233 cases), trafficking (214 cases), physical abuse and maltreatment (83 cases), illegal recruitment (47 cases), and child labor (13 cases).
Reporting child abuse
Several cases of abuse were reported in social media which spurred action from concerned agencies, including the DSWD, to immediately respond to the victims.
Aside from using social media, DSWD Sec. Taguiwalo wants the public to take a more pro-active response in reporting child abuse cases to authorities.
“Pigilan po natin ang pagdami ng kaso ng child abuse! Protektahan natin ang kaligtasan at kagalingan ng mga bata laban sa pang-aabuso sa anumang porma. I-report ang mga nakikitang insidente ng child abuse at exploitation (Let us prevent the increasing number of child abuse cases! We need to protect the safety and welfare of our children against all forms of abuse. Report any incident of child abuse and exploitation),” Sec. Taguiwalo said.
As provided for in Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, any person may report, orally or in writing, a case of child abuse, neglect, or exploitation to the following concerned agencies:
- Department of Social Welfare and Development (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 Violence Against Women (VAW) help desk officer
The victims themselves may file the complaint, or on their behalf, it could be their parent or legal guardian, relatives, barangay chairman, social workers, or at least (3) concerned citizens. Furthermore, any person who reported a child abuse case shall be assured of confidentiality and anonymity, and free from any civil and administrative liability.
Any person who reports must provide basic information on the child victim (name, age, address and whereabouts of the child, the reasons that the child may be at risk or in an abusive/exploitative situation) and the alleged perpetrator. However, any relevant information to suspect that a child is being abused or exploited shall suffice to initiate any action and investigation.
After receiving the report, any public or private hospital, medical clinic or similar institution, or attending physician and nurse is prescribed to make an oral or written report to the DSWD/LSWDO about the examination/treatment done to the victim within 48 hours of knowledge of the incident.
If proven that an abuse was committed, the concerned agencies will provide all the necessary assistance to ensure the safety of the victim. These include providing the needed physical, emotional and medical treatments, placing the child under protective custody, filing appropriate charges against the perpetrator, and implementing psychosocial interventions.
Failure to report a child abuse case is punishable with a fine of not more than two thousand pesos (P2,000.00) or as may be determined by a court with jurisdiction.
Programs for abused children
The DSWD implements “Protective Services for Children in Need of Special Protection.” Under this program are prevention and rehabilitation services for victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation which include therapy services for abused children to overcome the trauma caused by the abuse, alternative family care such as legal guardianship, adoption, foster care or residential care.
Aside from these, DSWD in coordination and collaboration with other government and non-government or private partners also offers support services for the victims and their families. These may include child and family counseling, psychological and psychiatric interventions, legal services, livelihood services to improve the economic condition of the affected family, and Parent Effectiveness Service (PES) which aims to expand the knowledge and improve the skills of parents on early childhood development, behavior management, health care, and rights and duties of parents and children, among others.
DSWD also manages residential care facilities for abused and neglected children in regions nationwide and works together with the local government units (LGUs) in managing cases of abused children.
Currently, 28 DSWD-managed facilities provide care and protection for children in need of intervention around the country.
Sec. Taguiwalo also wants to ensure that all DSWD programs and services will be quickly and effectively brought to the public.
“Sa palagay namin iyong pagpapalakas ng kapasidad ng mga centers ay makakatulong para tumugon doon sa kalagayan ng ating mga vulnerable sectors, isa na yung sa kabataan. Pag sinabi natin na palakasin, ang ibig sabihin nyan ay iyong structures and facilities kasama na doon yung pag-eenhance ng programs, pag-eenhance ng kapasidad ng ating mga social workers, house parents, at pag-iimprove sa social worker-client ratio (We think that strengthening the capacity of DSWD centers will greatly help the vulnerable sectors of our society, including our children. When we say strengthen, we mean enhancing the structures and facilities, including enhancing the programs, enhancing the capacity of social workers, house parents, and improving the social worker-client ratio),” Sec. Taguiwalo ended.