The Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce (ANZCHAM) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UNICEF, on behalf of the SaferKidsPH Consortium, to help address the online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC) in the Philippines. SaferKidsPH is an Australian Government Initiative that is implemented in partnership with Save the Children Philippines, The Asia Foundation, and UNICEF Philippines.
OSAEC is a borderless and complex crime that requires a coordinated and multi-sectoral response from all governments and stakeholders, including the private sector. Under the partnership with SaferKidsPH, ANZCHAM commits to supporting advocacy, volunteerism, and fundraising activities to keep Filipino children safe online.
“Children have the right to be protected from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Addressing online sexual abuse and exploitation of children is a top priority of UNICEF's Program of Cooperation with the Philippine Government for 2019 to 2023. Together with our partners, we are committed to improving child protection systems to address and prevent OSAEC,” said UNICEF Philippines Country Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov. In the Philippines, UNICEF is supporting a targeted program to strengthen the capacity of government systems, parents, caregivers, and community members to protect children from all forms of online sexual abuse and exploitation.
“OSAEC is everyone’s responsibility to fight against and the ANZCHAM business community is committed to bringing the conversation to our members’ respective organizations and eventually in their employees’ own homes. With more than 350 ANZCHAM member companies, we will continue to educate our members on how we can create a safer online environment for every child,” said Daniel Alexander, President of ANZCHAM.
“The work of SaferKidsPH isn’t limited to our governments and civil society partners. To succeed we must also involve communities, families, media, other development partners, and you, the business community. This could be through raising the awareness of your employees on this issue, promoting child-sensitive business practices, and supporting safe spaces and practices in schools and communities,” said Richard Sisson, Chargé d’affaires of the Australian Embassy in the Philippines.
According to the Philippine Kids Online Survey supported by the Australian Government and conducted by UNICEF in 2016, nearly half of child respondents said the internet is not safe for them. Two in 10 children are vulnerable to OSAEC, and boys are as vulnerable as girls. In 2018, at least 600,000 child abuse materials of Filipino children, including infants, were shared and sold online.
The vulnerabilities of Filipino children and their families have increased because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Children and youth are more at risk of OSAEC during this quarantine period as they, consequentially, spend more time online. Also, the economic strain on families can make them and their children more vulnerable to engaging in or falling victim to OSAEC. The Government has seen an increase of about 260 percent in reports of online child abuse materials from March to May 2020.