The Council for the Welfare of Children, in collaboration with UNICEF and NGO partners, has recently held the official launch of the results of the first-ever National Baseline Study on Violence Against Children (NBS-VAC). The event reveals high incidences and various forms of violence committed against Filipino children. It has also identified priority action plans and calls for concerted efforts among all sectors for a coordinated advocacy and stronger response to VAC.
“We at the Department of Social Welfare and Development call on our units to take a more pro-active role when it comes to reporting cases of child abuse. More importantly, we want to promote a mindset among Filipinos that child abuse is wrong and should not be allowed in a society that claims to have respect for children’s rights,” DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said. She also urged the delegation to use the results of the [NBS-VAC] as basis for enhancing legislation, policies, programs, and interventions for children; and strengthening the capacity of all service-providers to prevent and respond to violence against children in the Philippines.
The nationwide study conducted in 2015 included almost 4,000 child respondents from across all sectors and socio-economic backgrounds aged 13-24 years old. Here are some highlights of the NBS-VAC:
• Total prevalence of all forms of violence against children is at 80%; with boys at 81.5% and girls, 78.4%.
• 1 in 3 children experiences physical violence, with more than half of this happening at home
• Most common cases of violence at home are corporal punishment committed by parents and siblings
• 3 in 5 children experience psychological violence; in the form of verbal abuse, threats or neglect
• 1 in 5 children below age 18 have experienced sexual violence while growing up
• Common perpetrators of sexual violence are brothers or cousins. Among males who experienced sexual violence, frequent perpetrators are cousins, fathers and brothers.
• Nearly half of children experience violence online, whether sexual violence or cyber-bullying.
“It is of deep concern that so many forms of violence pervade and harm the lives of Filipino children across all settings, committed by people they trust. The evidence demonstrates the need for expressed high-level government commitment and partner support to implement the National Plan of Action to respond to and prevent VAC,” UNICEF Philippines Representative Lotta Sylwander said. Ms Sylwander also cited the Philippine government’s commitment to the UN sustainable development goals (SGDs), in which VAC is a worldwide priority agenda to “end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children (SDG 16.2).”
The major findings of the study were presented at the launch, along with a systematic literature review of local and international sources. It also highlighted the presentation of the results of the 4th Philippine National Children’s Consultation last May, which CWC and UNICEF hosted, in which over 200 child representatives from across the country discussed their opinions and experiences on VAC at a community level.
Keynote speakers have also discussed about how the study’s results can fuel policy reforms and improve national child protection mechanisms; enable stronger cooperation between government and NGO partners as program implementors; and share best-practices from across the region. Both Secretary Taguiwalo and Ms Sylwander likewise encouraged the delegates to continue raising awareness among the broader public to elevate the discussion and highlight personal accountability among families and adult caregivers to uphold the rights and welfare of children.
Secretary Taguiwalo and Ms Sylwander joined CWC Executive Director Patricia Luna in gathering the speakers and delegates from Philippine government agencies; including DepEd Undersecretary Albert Muyot, NYC Chair Cariza Seguerra and PNP-WCPC PSSupt. Liborio Carabbacan; Susan Bisell of the Global Partnership to End VAC; Dr Bernadette Madrid of the Child Protection Network; and heads of other non-government organizations, faith-based organizations, academe, children representatives, media partners and other children’s advocates.
To show their support, Filipino musicians Gary Valenciano and Ogie Alcasid performed special numbers and gave their views about protecting children from all forms of violence. Both artists are UNICEF and World Vision ambassadors, respectively.
The NBS-VAC was hosted by the National Steering Committee chaired by CWC and UNICEF, with the support of DSWD, the Department of Education, Department of Health, Department of Justice; and NGO partners ChildFund, the Child Protection Network, Consuelo Foundation, Plan International, Save the Children, the UP-Manila National Institute of Health, and the World Health Organization.
“We cannot do it alone. A single agency cannot create the impact or achieve our vision for a VAC-free society. It being a multi-faceted issue calls for strategic actions. We need to put all our acts together and more importantly, harmonize our actions,” Secretary Taguiwalo concluded.