Child protection in Puerto during COVID-19

The past year, children have stayed confined in their homes with fewer opportunities to realize their fundamental rights to survival, development, protection, and participation. The lack of stimulation, “real” learning, and participation, brought on by distance learning and unregulated gadget use, expose children to further risks. The pandemic has forced children to be locked up at home, which unfortunately has made many of them more vulnerable to abuse.

Working with the Department of Education Locally.

Last year, early into the pandemic, we provided training to all Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT) teachers in Puerto Galera, along with the members of the School Child Protection Committees. Trainings covered basic children’s rights, Child Sexual Abuse Prevention, Cybersafety, and Safeguarding in Schools in the New Normal. The sessions were designed to equip the school personnel with practical guidance on how to ensure safety and protection among learners in their homes. The schools incorporated into their Child Protection Policies (CPPs) child safeguarding in education delivery, social media policies, and case management
protocols in handling online and offline child protection concerns within their schools.

Currently, we are coordinating with both public and private schools to maximize Stairway’s e-learning platform and integrate online courses into the curriculum for the next school year. One of the teachers suggested that the materials should also be presented in the parents’ orientation sessions, before the official commencement of the school year. This will enable the parents to be on guard of their children’s online activities and capacitate them on how to provide appropriate supervision.

Stairway also distributed online safety materials produced by our partner CEOP, 1,275
storybooks (Ang Kwento ni Tam) to public school students of all levels from Kindergarten to Grade 6, and 525 Cybersafe booklets (#BeCyberSafe comics) to Grade 9 students of two (2) public high schools during the Safer Internet Day and Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Week.