Protecting Children Online

According to a recent report released by Unicef, the Philippines has become a top global source of child pornography and is one of the worst-affected countries in Asia-Pacific for online abuse. The research further states that around 80% of Filipino children are at risk of online sexual abuse and bullying. With 55% of Filipinos now gaining access to the Internet, cybersex dens are increasingly operating in remote locations and slum areas. For as little as $3.00 per “show”, children are being forced to perform sexual acts in front of web cameras. There are even cases where parents facilitate the arrangement of online sexual abuse of their own children.
Cyber Safety Seminar attended by Tiwala youth
Burdened by these grim realities, Tiwala Kids & Communities sought to help the children under our care to be more vigilant in protecting themselves from online exploitation. As part of our Digi-Eskwela Project, we conducted a cyber safety seminar for 40 teens attending our Tiwala Youth Program. The seminar topics included online dangers such as exposure to inappropriate material, internet predators, cyberbullying, and how to better protect themselves from these dangers. We were shocked to find out that many of them had been receiving lewd videos and messages from total strangers. As a result, the seminar also involved practical hands-on experiences such as changing their security settings, limiting the content they share, and reporting and blocking inappropriate content and messages.
As part of our discipleship thrust, we also armed the teens with God’s Word and shared with them that they should anchor their identity not on how many friends or “likes” they get on social media, but on the unchanging truth that the Lord loves them unconditionally. We also encouraged them to focus on whatever is true, noble, right, and pure (Philippians 4:8); not to set their eyes on anything worthless (Psalm 101:3); and to use social media as a platform to share God’s love, encourage those who feel left out, and help those who are weak (1 Thessalonians 5:13).

We hope to roll out a similar seminar next month for the parents and carers of the children to increase their awareness about the threats posed by the Internet, and how they too can help their children observe safer practices and behavior online.

The online sexual exploitation of children have serious negative effects that are harmful to their psychological, spiritual, physical, mental, and social development. Although it is a multifaceted problem that requires coordinated and holistic solutions, we believe that raising awareness about the issue can make a big difference. It is imperative that we educate children and their parents so that they are able to recognize, avoid, and prevent abuse and harm.

Thank you so much for helping us in this endeavor. Your partnership enables us to dispel darkness and bring light to the lives of vulnerable children and families. We appreciate your prayers, concern, and support. We pray that the Lord will also continue to help you carry His light to your spheres of influence and be a channel of His love to the people around you.

Tiwala Kids & Communities Team