Online child abuse leading cybercrime in PH

Marje Pelayo   •   April 16, 2019   •   2047

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

Breastfeeding within an hour after birth most beneficial to newborns

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 2, 2019

In line with World Breastfeeding Week, the World Health Organization (WHO) reiterates the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding within one hour after birth.

“Early initiation of breastfeeding, within 1 hour of birth, protects the newborn from acquiring infections and reduces newborn mortality,” according to WHO.

The baby also gets colostrum from the first feed. Colostrum, according to WHO, is also called the baby’s ‘first vaccine’.

Colostrum is rich in nutrients and anti-bodies which reduce a baby’s risk to infections. An early contact with the mother also reduces the baby’s stress which allows them to have a steady heart rate.

Breastfed babies also…

  • have lower risk of developing asthma or allergies.
  • perform better on intelligence tests and have higher school attendance.
  • are less likely to be obese or underweight, however this will eventually depend on their lifestyle change as they grow older.

Breastfeeding mothers…

  • have lower risk in developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
  • have less difficulty in losing pregnancy weight.

“It is estimated that increased breastfeeding could avert 20,000 maternal deaths each year due to breast cancer,” according to WHO.

WHO adds that 3 in 5 babies are not breastfed in the first hour of their lives. This poses higher risk of death and disease for the baby.

“Yet each year, millions of newborns miss out on the benefits of early breastfeeding and the reasons – all too often – are things we can change,” according to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore. “Mothers simply don’t receive enough support to breastfeed within those crucial minutes after birth, even from medical personnel at health facilities.”

The World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated from August 1 to 7.—AAC

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

Maris Federez   •   May 27, 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

UNICEF opposes proposal to lower age of criminal liability in PH

Marje Pelayo   •   October 10, 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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