WE CELEBRATE Children's month every November. This celebration was used to be in October but for some reason, it was moved to this month. It is a way of saying that children are assets and not liabilities. They will be our future stewards, so it is only fitting to ensure that they grow up well (holistically). What are we doing to promote the welfare and development of our children?
Presidential Award for Child-Friendly Municipalities and Cities (PACFMC) is awarded annually to LGUs in recognition of their vital role in promoting children's rights to survival, development, protection, and participation as well as ensuring child-friendly governance. The PACFMC is an annual undertaking of the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), in accordance with Executive Order 184 entitled "Establishing the Presidential Award for the Child-Friendly Municipalities and Cities" issued on December 13, 1999. It is heartwarming to know that Baguio City has sturdy and various programs for the protection and development of children. In fact, this city has been chosen as the second Most Child-Friendly City in 2015. For the succeeding years, Baguio City has been consistent among the finalists of the annual award.
Last month, the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) spearheaded a workshop with members of the Local Council for the Protection of Children (LCPC) in crafting a three year (2020-2022) local development plan for children (LDCP). I was there as a representative of the Department of Education (DepEd) Baguio City Division. To make this plan responsive, we had to understand the present and urgent needs of the children in the city by looking to the challenges they face.
One of the identified challenges of children in the city is the shift or perhaps the deterioration their values. There is apparent lack of respect among the youth towards authorities. Spirituality and relationship with neighbors are not given strong emphasis. The result is connected, I believe, to the prevailing concerns on teen-age pregnancy and pre-marital sex because of being materialistic. It could also be the cause of crime involvement. The shift or deterioration of values is also being affected by the unguided use of social media and other technologies. To protect the children from the negative consequences of the deterioration of values, a plan to revive and strengthen the moral recovery program was included in the plan.
Childcare should also focus on the mental and psychological needs of the children today, especially in an urban place like Baguio City. Children in the city are living in a complex and complicated world. The social media has created a world we call digital where most of their time are spent. They have access to almost everything that happens all over the globe. Their minds and emotions have to deal with many and strange things. As a consequence, they suffer mental and/or psychological illnesses. According to an online article, psychiatrists, psychologists, and life coaches attested to the fact that in the last few years, suicide cases and mental illnesses among the youth have drastically increased. In the school where I teach, more and more cases of depression and related psychological problems have been recorded. Also, according to the World Health Organization Global school-based survey in 2015, among 8,761 students from Grades 7-9, 11.6 percent among 13 to 17 year olds considered suicide, 16.8 percent among 13 to 17 year olds attempted suicide.
"At least one per day would come in the emergency room for a suicide attempt, one young person," said Dr. Constantine Chua, chief resident of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine. Child psychiatrist Dr. Norieta Balderrama from the PGH Child Protection Unit also said that she and roughly 80 child psychiatrists in the country have shared anecdotes from their practice indicating an increase in young patients who have suicidal thoughts or have attempted suicide. Many of them, she said, experienced depression (Rappler).
Depression is real and so with mental illness. This does not meant that children having mental illness are crazy or people having mental disorder. I hope that we are clear of this idea because it is this thought that prevents people from seeking professional help. We have many organizations in the city, both government and non-government organizations, that are willing and ready to provide assistance for children and adults alike who experiences mental-related problems.
Most children who have these problems come from either rich or poor families but if poor children suffer the same, they will have a harder time to cope or perhaps recover because of lack of resources for treatment. That is why with the initiative of the local government through the CSWDO and the LCPC, the opportunity to avail treatment is hoped to be given fair to all. The celebration of Children's Month this November includes mental and psychological consultation activities organized by LSU-Sunflower Center.
There are also activities like dental check-up, run for hope, and many more. You can contact the office of CSWDO and SLU-Sunflower Center for details. In the end, we just want our children to grow as they deserved, being children of God.