A Catholic bishop has called for concerted effort to fight online child sexual exploitation amid reports that the coronavirus lockdowns may be worsening the abuses.
Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos said everyone should be vigilant to prevent children from being “unwilling victims.”
“We should condemn the viruses of human trafficking and online sexual exploitation, do what is necessary to eradicate this worst endemic traffickers and sexual offenders,” he said.
Santos said online child abuse is “a more dangerous and extremely deadly” virus lurking around aside from the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that human traffickers and sexual offenders are “the worst and venomous virus on earth.”
“They prey on our young people that are restricted to their homes due to coronavirus lockdowns. They take advantage of the situation, with our youth who are preoccupied with the Internet at home. These predators are heartless, motivated by insatiable greed and addiction to their craving of flesh trades,” he stressed.
A new study released by the Washington-based International Justice Mission noted the sharp increase of internet-based child sexual exploitation in the country in recent years.
The study showed that within three years the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses used for online sexual exploitation rose to 81,723 in 2016 from about 23,333 in 2014.
Santos has urged the public to report any incidence of online sexual exploitation “and bear witness to these evil deeds.”
“It is only then we can make sure that our youth, our children, are not only socially distant from those human viruses of trafficking and exploitation but we must contain these perpetrators. We must exhaust all legal means to investigate, prosecute and punish them,” he said.