100 teens attend DSWD’s youth forum on safer Internet usage

NAGA CITY—The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Region V convened more than 100 youths in the first youth forum on safer internet usage last May 18 at Prime Days Hotel and Restaurant.

Camarines Sur had notable cases involving online sexual exploitation of children. In 2016, there were four cases of child pornography recorded in the said province.

The said forum aims to mitigate child pornography by educating minors about online child safety. Teenagers were invited from 19 out of 27 barangays in Naga City to attend the one-day forum.

Julyka Mae Reola, 17, of Brgy. Mabolo, Naga City, is one of the youth attendees who said that the youth should be cautious when going online specially that they are frequent Facebook users.

“Kaipuhan na maprotektahan ang kabataan online dahil babad na kami sa cellphone. Kaipuhan mi na maaraman ang mga bagay na dapat iwasan sa paggamit ning internet at dapat limitahan ang oras ning pag gamit ning gadgets (We need to protect the youth online because we are exposed to cellphones. We need to educate ourselves on how to avoid abuses online and should limit our gadget usage),” Reola added.

The following topics were discussed during the forum: Social Media and Internet Safety Rules Against Online Sexual Exploitation of Children, Legal Basis and Procedures, Salient Points of Laws and Policies Related to Online Child Abuse, Legal process from reporting to conviction and the Digital Landscape in the Philippines and Globally.

Subsequently, a workshop was facilitated to solicit answers from the participants on what makes them feel unsafe online and how they can make the internet a safe space for children.

On the other hand, anyone can file a complaint against child pornography who can directly seek immediate assistance from their nearest local social welfare and development offices (LSWDOs) or report to Philippine National Police (PNP) Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC).

Moreover, victims of child pornography can access the mandatory services from different government agencies, namely, emergency shelter or appropriate housing, free legal and counselling services, medical or psychological services, livelihood and skill training; and educational assistance.

Under the Republic Act No. 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 perpetrators are penalized with a life sentence or a fine up to five million pesos if proven guilty of child pornography.

Child pornography refers to any representation, whether visual, audio, or written combination thereof, by electronic, mechanical, digital, optical, magnetic or any other means, of child engaged or involved in real or simulated explicit sexual activities.