Sanchez: Child safety

AS THE Christian world is gearing up to celebrate the birth of the Christ Jesus, I read an alarming news on United Nations Children’s Fund or Unicef’s 2017 The State of The World’s Children report.

Here, the report focused on children in the digital age, and how “digital technology has impacted on children’s lives and life chances, identifying dangers as well as opportunities.”

Unicef mentioned that the Philippines touched on child safety and susceptibility to online sexual abuse. The country is the number one global source of child pornography, and a hub for the livestream sexual abuse trade. They also noted that eight out of 10 Filipino children are at risk of online sexual abuse or cyberbullying.

Among the statistics and figures that factored into The State of The World’s Children 2017 was one from a separate study by a 2015 GSM Association, a trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide.

In that report, the association found that in the Philippines, the most common age for a child to own a mobile phone was 10 years old. This study also found that 85 percent of all children they surveyed use their mobile phones to access the Internet; and that the Philippines has the highest proportion of children who use tablets, at 76 percent. Filipino kids are highly connected, even many street children who have access to internet cafés.

Bacolod has not been spared from child pornography. Middle of this year, the International Justice Mission (IJM), an organization that helps children sexually exploited online, joined the entrapment operations of the police in two barangays in Bacolod on May 5 that led to the rescue four female minors and arrest of three women, including the mother of the three victims.

SunStar Bacolod reported that the rescued girls are aged eight, nine, 10 and 11 years old. That really is a cause for worry. The same ages of the kids we deal with during praise and worship and feed.

As a He Cares servant who deals with Bacolod’s street children, I noticed how enraptured the kids are with digital technology. They like to borrow our smartphones for selfies. Save for the way they quickly drain the batteries, I see their affinity with cellphones as a way of self-affirmation of themselves. Otherwise, pretty harmless.

SunStar Bacolod reported that authorities conducted separate operations in two barangays back in May 5. The first operation, conducted in the morning, resulted to the arrest of three women and the rescue of three girls in Barangay Handumanan. Nothing, absolutely, nothing harmless with how these parents use their children to commit crimes against the persons of these minors.

The mother was caught offering one of her daughters to perform a sex show online in exchange for payment from a customer in Australia. Authorities from Down Under contacted their counterparts in the Philippine National Police after they arrested an Aussie for engaging in online sexual exploitation of children.

These reports indicate that there are more to worry about than losing power. In my case, I restrict internet access in my Android and IPhone. I don’t want to be enslaved by being addicted to connectivity. Besides, the servants make sure the kids don’t play unsupervised. Thank the Lord for that.

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