Editorial: Sharing the stake with mothers

Editorial: Sharing the stake with mothers
Editorial Cartoon by John Montencillo

Society cannot seem to make up its mind about mothers. First, we put mothers on pedestals.

As quickly, we blame mothers for all the wrongs done to their children.

Why blame the mother only when there are usually two parents responsible for bringing a child into this world?

Netizens were unsparing in their criticism of the mother of a two-year-old who was ravaged by dogs guarding a piggery the child had wandered into.

As reported by Ronald O. Reyes of SunStar Philippines on Mar. 11, the child was left with her grandparents at Barangay Timbangan, Calbiga, Samar last March 9. The child’s father was away at work that Saturday afternoon; the mother was out on errands to buy her child’s needs.

Unnoticed by her grandparents, the two-year-old wandered into a neighbor’s farm where four dogs guarded pigs. They attacked the child, who survived but required surgery for intensive injuries.

When the dog attack was first reported, netizens were quick to blame the dog owner and the toddler’s mother. The latter was faulted for negligence in not taking extra precautions to ensure the child’s safety.

Another mother figured in another recent controversy involving a child who had been raped. Brigada News FM broadcasters, lawyer Juril Patiño and former barangay captain Dennes Tabar, faced criticism from many individuals and groups over their interview of a four-year-old survivor of rape.

Extracting from the survivor a narration that described the rape explicitly, the interview, which was aired and uploaded on the social media page of the radio station, was perceived as violating the child’s rights and threatening her recovery.

In follow-up broadcasts, Patiño and Tabar said their intention was only to help the victim, asserting that the child’s mother approached them for help and even requested that the recorded interview be kept on the social media page of the radio station until the case was closed.

In these two cases involving possible lapses of judgment committed by the parents that affected the well-being of their children, there is a need to reflect beyond the easier acts of blaming and finger-pointing.

What is needed to educate parents on their responsibilities to ensure their children’s rights and welfare?

Blaming mothers is evading the responsibility of society to enable all stakeholders to share in upholding the best interests of the most vulnerable among us: children and minors.

In a March 16 public statement, Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) executive director lawyer Pachico A. Seares noted that ethical codes and broadcast standards should have weighed more heavily than the mother’s appeal to the Brigada broadcasters for a live interview of the rape survivor.

Addressing media regulation and media literacy advocacy, the CCPC and other media advocacy groups must organize fora that do not only refresh journalists on the need for social responsibility and sensitivity in handling news and public affairs but also educate citizens, especially netizens active on social media, on how media work and how private citizens can protect their rights vis-à-vis the freedom of the press to cover and interpret news and public affairs.

Stakeholders, such as line agencies, local government units, and non-government organizations (NGO), should take the lead in educating citizens about children’s and minors’ rights and welfare.

The tragedies befalling children or minors left alone at home by their parents due to work, vice, and other reasons are well-documented: rape, trafficking, neglect, trauma, death from fire and other accidents.

A Bantay Banay communal watch similar to the successful implementation in Cebu City barangays by the NGO Lihok Filipina bears revisiting and replicating because this social mechanism provided parents—not just overburdened mothers—the support needed to ensure that the rights and welfare of children and minors are protected and promoted.


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