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Online child abuse leading cybercrime in PH

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has noted that online child abuse is the top cybercrime in the Philippines.

According to UNICEF Country Representative Julia Rees, the massive presence of Filipino children online makes them “vulnerable to online sexual abuse and exploitation.”

UNICEF argued that such crimes are made possible with new technologies, such as live streaming which puts more Filipino children at risk.

The National Baseline Survey on Violence Against Children shows cyber violence is affecting one in two Filipino children aged 13 to 17.

“One in three internet users is a child,” Rees said.

“While the government has been trying to respond to the demand, breadth, scope and agility of the technology-not to mention the extreme accessibility of digital platforms – there must be more that we can do together to protect our children,” she added.

To help protect Filipino children from online abuse, the Australian Embassy in Manila pledged to provide P298 million over the next six years to fund the SaferKidsPH program which aims at reducing online sexual exploitation in the country.

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven Robinson said, “Addressing online sexual exploitation and abuse of children is a global concern.”

Through the SaferKidsPH project, the Australian government reinforces its commitment to support the Philippine government in its efforts to address cyber abuse and violence which he considers a “complex form of human trafficking.” – Marje Pelayo

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UNICEF turns over ‘school-in-a-bag’ packages to schools in Region 8

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Monday, May 27th, 2019

UNICEF and partners SEAMEO INNOTECH and Smart Communications turn over school in a bag kits to 50 multigrade schools in Northern Samar and Samar divisions. This is part of UNICEF’s support to the Department of Education (DepEd) to improve the quality of education in multigrade schools in the Philippines. |© UNICEF Philippines/2019/Vitto Milanes

UNICEF on Saturday (May 25) has given out 50 portable and digital classroom packages for select schools in Samar and Northern Samar to help improve student learning in multi-grade classes.

In a press release, UNICEF explained that “multigrade classes are inclusive systems wherein children with different developmental levels, abilities and needs mix and learn together in one classroom under the guidance of one teacher.”

The UN’s children’s agency said that it has partnered with the Department of Education (DepEd), PLDT-Smart, and SEAMEO-Innotech in launching the program.

“Each school-in-a-bag package handed over today equips classes with a projector, one teacher laptop and tablet in one, five student tablets, DVD player, USB memory drive, and pocket wifi with starter load,” the statement added.

It said that around 2,500 disadvantaged school children will benefit from the project.

“Today’s turnover of school-in-a-bag packages aims to bring 21st-century learning to all children, particularly for learners from isolated and indigenous poor communities. This is part of our long-standing commitment that every Filipino child realizes their right to quality education,” UNICEF Representative a.i. Julia Rees said in the agency’s statement sent to media.

She added that the agency looks forward “to replicating the project in other parts of the country where it is needed most.”

As the project’s technology partner, PLDT-Smart developed a learning app in Waray and Ibakon languages, and packaged customized, relevant e-learning resources for tablets and laptops.

The development of this app is based on the review and feedback from multigrade teachers and implementers who completed the training on Contextualization of Multigrade Teach-Learn Material in Region 8 in February 2018.

As an implementing partner, SEAMEO-Innotech, on the other hand, has been helping improve access to quality learning by coordinating and organizing activities with the DepEd.

UNICEF’s statement added that the lack of schools, teacher absenteeism, run-down facilities and the lack of inclusive learning set-up for children from indigenous communities or for children with disability are some of the reasons why about 2.8 million school-aged Filipino children are not in school or enrolled in alternative learning options.

Samar and Northern Samar are among UNICEF’s geographical priority areas where some of the most disadvantaged children are. Priority areas also include Western Samar, Zamboanga del Norte, and the five provinces in BARMM, namely, Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. /mbmf

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UNICEF opposes proposal to lower age of criminal liability in PH

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

MANILA, Philippines – The United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is not convinced by the proposal to lower the age of criminal liability to 12 years old in the Philippines, as suggested by Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

According to Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF’s Representative to the Philippines, a 12-year-old is so young to be held liable for a criminal act citing that “the human brain is not yet fully developed until the age of 16.”

“Sixteen (16) or below 16 and you commit a crime you’re not always aware as a child of the consequences that can happen and subjecting children to the kind of violence as killing them for example is really not fair to that child they’re never been given a second chance,” she explained.

 

UNICEF Philippines Country Representative Ms. Lotta Sylwander | Photo via UNICEF.org

 

She added that punishing children at a tender age will not help in their reformation as they will just be branded as criminal for the rest of their lives.

“Keep the children out of the criminal justice system so that they can be reformed and brought back in the community as children,” she explained further.

Sylwander cited a study on reformative justice system which is proven to help prevent children from returning to their criminal practices.

The study, Sylwander said, states that reformative justice system convinces them to return to their family and to continue their education.

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) also opposes the said proposal despite the increasing number of crimes involving minors.

“We at the DSWD stands with not lowering the age of criminality because technically the definition for children is below 18 years old,” said ASec. Glenda Relova.

Relova said they will most likely support the proposal if there are scientific observation and researches that will prove its benefits.

Currently, the law sets the age of criminal liability to 15 years old based in the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Cathy Maglalang)

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Yemen war a ‘living hell’ for children – UNICEF

by admin   |   Posted on Friday, September 14th, 2018

 

 

A malnourished child being weighed at a hospital in Sanaa | REUTERS

In the malnutrition ward of a hospital in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, doctors weigh toddlers with protruding rib cages and skeletal limbs.

Twenty children, most under the age of two, being treated at the ward in Sab’een hospital are among hundreds of thousands of children suffering from severe malnutrition in the impoverished country that has been ravaged by more than three years of war.

“The conflict has made Yemen a living hell for its children,” Meritxell Relano, UNICEF Representative in Yemen, told Reuters.

She said more than 11 million children, or about 80 percent of the country’s population under the age of 18, were facing the threat of food shortages, disease, displacement and acute lack of access to basic social services.

“An estimated 1.8 million children are malnourished in the country. Nearly 400,000 of them are severely acute malnourished and they are fighting for their lives every day.”

A coalition of Sunni Muslim Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, intervened in Yemen’s war in 2015 against the Iranian-aligned Houthis after they drove the internationally recognized government out of the capital Sanaa.

The war has unleashed the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis in the nation of 28 million, where 8.4 million people are believed to be on the verge of starvation and 22 million people are dependent on aid.

The coalition has imposed stringent measures on imports into Yemen to prevent the Houthis from smuggling weapons but the checks have slowed the flow of commercial goods and vital aid to the country.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE say they are providing funds and supplies to support aid efforts in Yemen. The Houthis blame the coalition for choking off imports into the country.

In Sab’een hospital naked toddlers are lowered unto scales to be weighed.

The families of the children declined to speak to the media.

“The situation of the families without jobs, without income and in the middle of the war, is catastrophic,” Relano said.

She said UNICEF had provided more than 244,000 severely malnourished children under the age of five with therapeutic treatment since the beginning of 2018, in addition to micronutrient treatment to over 317,000 children under five.

“The human cost and the humanitarian impact of this conflict is unjustifiable,” U.N. humanitarian coordinator Lise Grande said in a statement on Thursday.

“Parties to the conflict are obliged to do absolutely everything possible to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure and ensure people have access to the aid they are entitled to and need to survive.” — Reuters

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