THE Department of Education (DepEd) recently launched an educational campaign to teach learners, parents and teachers and the school community on how children can be safe online.
Dubbed “#BeCyberSafe”, the DepEd project is in collaboration with Stairway Foundation and the Internet and Mobile Marketing Associations of the Philippines.
Consisting of three major components, namely, Project for Keeps, Dalir-Eskwela, and Chatbot, the project aims at ensuring that the scope of child protection extends to the cybersphere.
“The launching of this program is certainly very welcome because we are now recognizing that harm can be inflicted not only the physical ways but also through cyber space,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said during the launching of the program at DepEd central office in Pasig City.
Aside from educating young students on the risks of befriending strangers online, the project also offers a range of educational materials, which discusses key issues on cyber safety fom cyberbullying to online chatting, online gaming, and online pornography.
It also has a Messenger-based helpline designed to address the lack of reporting by children of child protection issues they face in the cyber space.
The country, which was declared as a social media capital in the world, has 67 million internet users and social media users.
“Every Filipino who uses the internet is also possibly using social media. Across the region, the country has the very peculiar situation. In many countries, the social media penetration rate is much lower than the internet penetration, and the country is in this special situation right now,” Ysrael Diloy, Senior Advocacy Officer of Stairway Foundation, said.
Citing recent studies conducted by Stairway Foundation and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), Diloy said around 43.8 percent or almost half of the respondents aged 13-18 have experienced cyber violence.
“One of the very alarming aspects of this is in the context of social abuse online, in particular, having being sent sexual messages and having their sexual activities or nude body shown online,” he said.
In a 2008 study, it showed that eight out of 10 who chatted online with a fake persona even though they knew that they were chatting with a 14-year-old girl still proceeded with sexualized conversation.
The launching was part of the 26th National Children’s Month (NCM) celebration this month dubbed “Isulong: Tamang Pag-aaruga Para sa Lahat ng Bata.”