Editorial: Programs for children at risk

DAVAO City has had its Children's Welfare Code since 1994, which has served as a template for other cities and municipalities because of the wide coverage it gives for the children.

It was one of the legacies that former City Councilor Leonardo R. Avila III.

While Davao City has constantly been recognized for its programs for children partly as a result of this, the Davao City Council can do well to find another member who actively advocates for children's concern. There being none so far who has replaced Avila since he passed away, we're glad that Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio did notice that while there are programs for children in vulnerable situations, as well as facilities for victims of abuse and those in conflict with the law, there is indeed a gap when it comes to children who are at high risk, but are allowed to fester on the streets or in their communities until they become the victims or the ones in conflict.

Reading through the comprehensive Children's Welfare Code, we can see that setting children at risk of getting in conflict with the law to right is implied, but how this will be done, there is existing protocol or implementing rules. The focus has always been on the rescue and he rehabilitation.

It is implied in the components of the Davao City Special Office for Children's Concerns. It is implied in the article providing for Protection of Rights of Children, but implementation was focused on the very young and those who are already in trouble.

Those manifesting high-risk behaviors like the rugby boys are ignored, and in the process graduate to becoming children in conflict with the law, and that's the only time something is done.

Indeed, as City Councilor Maria Belen S. Acosta said in her privilege speech, this calls for an ordinance that will allow the government to be equipped with legal, physical, and financial capabilities to respond.

"True enough, it will be wise to craft an ordinance that establishes intervention program catering to the children at risk and let us not wait that they will become Children in Conflict with the law (CICL)," she said.

We say, do it now.
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