CHILD Alert Mindanao (CAM) has expressed alarm over the number of reports they are receiving on the online sexual exploitation of children (Osec).
From March to May 2019, they have received reports from 164 children who have been exposed to online sexual exploitation in Davao City.
“Ang uban tingali ani wala gyud [naabot sa] police, pero mao ni account sa mga bata. Makita nato na medyo problema gyud ni labi na ug sikreto mahitabo. Pwede sa sulod sa balay, unya a lot of families, the parents don't see anything wrong kay ingon pa nila wala may actual or physical nga contact [These reports might have not reached the police. This is a problem since these mostly happen in their own dwellings because the parents don't see anything wrong with it as they say there is no physical contact],” Bennie Mondragon, Child Alert Mindanao (CAM) executive director.
He added that children are more vulnerable now to being exploited online because of easier access to the internet with smartphones and digital tablets.
In protecting our children from the dangers and dark side of the internet, it all starts at our homes.
Mondragon encouraged parents to be responsible on letting their children use the internet especially now that social media has become a tool to commit crimes, such as child abuse and human trafficking.
For some of us, it is bothering to see children as young as two or three years old having their full attention on the tablet or smartphone they are holding on. We understand that parents want them to behave but we have to agree with experts that giving them the mobile device is not always a good idea.
We may install all the mobile application or computer software to protect our children from the dark side of the internet, but there are a lot smart ones out there who have created means to bypass these guardrails we install. Tech savvy children would only need to do a simple Google search to bypass these guardrails too.
If we want to protect our children from being exploited online or preyed upon by online criminals and trolls, we also have to practice responsible use of internet and digital devices on our phones.
It is our responsibility to set up a variety of guardrails to protect our children from the dangers of the internet. This does not only mean installing a certain mobile application or computer software but it also means educating them on how to protect themselves and identify the good and bad in the world wide web.