Dakila, together with The Asia Foundation (TAF) and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), announced new updates on AlamBaU.ph, an online resource hub that educates, supports, and connects stakeholders to protect children from online abuse and exploitation. The event, held on June 26, Tuesday, in Pasay City, was attended by representatives from various NGOs and government agencies concerned with the prevalence of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC.)
“AlamBaU.ph was a localized response to the need of Filipinos to understand the Internet and the risks attached to its use. With the growing threats to children, especially online, it is imperative that stakeholders, especially parents and teachers, have access to tools and knowledge that can enable them to protect children active on the internet,” DAKILA OIC-Executive Director Rash Caritativo said.
The event headlined various activities such as the unveiling of AlamBaU.ph posters with symbolic signing of commitment from Assistant Secretary Juvy R. Manwong of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT); PCSupt William S. Macavinta, Chief of the Philippine National Police – Women and Children Protection Center (PNP-WCPC); and Ms. Sally Ujano of National Coordinator of Philippines Against Child Trafficking (PACT).
“It is important for us to work together in protecting children from any harm, whether online or offline. What children-victims of OSEC go through is horrible. We must put an end to it. We, as duty-bearers, are one with you in combatting this unspeakable violation of human rights and dignity,” PCSupt. Macavinta shared.
There were also presentations of AlamBaU.ph videos featuring the adventures of AlamBaU.ph avatars Ami and Abu; while Ami and Abu mascots were present to distribute advocacy materials to guests. Meanwhile, a digital kiosk was set up for attendees like the media, parents, bloggers, and even children to explore the AlamBaU website.
“The materials present in AlamBaU.ph aim to educate stakeholders on dangers present online, tips and safety measures to avoid online harassments, and to inform them on actions to do when an OSEC incident occurs,” Caritativo added.
While AlamBaU.ph has been existent for a while, Ms. Gilda Mosatalla of Development Action for Women Network (DAWN), a mother of two (2), and a follower of AlamBaU.ph on Facebook, shared that the updates in the website is timely. “As the school starts, more and more children will be active online to communicate with their schoolmates and teachers, and for educational purposes. The risk of being victimized by online sexual predators also increases as they spend more time online.” Meanwhile, Ms. Luzviminda Antonio, a fellow colleague at DAWN and a mother of one (1) added, “It is paramount that we as parents and adults are armed with knowledge on how to ensure our children’s safety online as much as we ensure their safety in real life.”
The program included a brief introduction to the AlamBaU.ph website. The main features of the online resource hub include audience-specific materials clustered into four categories: Kids, Teens, Parents, and Teachers.
“We recognize that various stakeholders from varying age bracket have varying stakes on the OSEC issue. We designed the contents of AlamBaU.ph — the tone and language used, and the form it is presented — in such way that would effectively reach different audiences, keeping in mind their different attitudes and behaviors online; we actually tested the materials with its intended audience,” Caritativo explained.
Some examples of contents for the Kids section include educational materials on the safe use of the internet through The Adventures of Ami and Abu videos, while the Teens section include CyberSafe practices and spotting online groomers. Meanwhile, the contents for Parents, and Teachers include tips on how to help ensure the safety of their children, and students, respectively.
AlamBaU.ph may also be localized to various audiences through different language options including Filipino, English, and Cebuano; while the Resources webpage contains Engagement Kits, CyberSafety Manuals, and copies of laws on child protection that are open for public and can be downloaded for free. Anyone may also upload relevant resource materials that can be posted on the page.
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Lilian Doris Alejo, Chief of the Department of Justice Anti – Trafficking Task Force, meanwhile, lauded the AlamBaU.ph website as a concrete platform that encourages the government, police, academe, organizations, and other stakeholders to work together towards the protection of children against online sexual exploitation. The website, she says, contains contact information of the proper authorities to report an OSEC incident. “We, parents, teachers, civil servants, and adults are the first line of defense against OSEC. Through our collective efforts, we can help provide a safer online environment for our children,” Prosecutor Alejo explained. “AlamBaU.ph serves as a bridge that connects stakeholders in this advocacy,” she added.
Pledge of Commitment
A toast concluded the event, with guests and stakeholders pledging commitment to unified actions towards the protection of children against online sexual exploitation. “More than introducing the updates on AlamBaU.ph, the heart of this event is to bring the OSEC issue to a wider audience, and to remind everyone that we all have a significant role in protecting children against any form of abuse both online and offline. May this event be a gateway for greater collaboration among stakeholders,” Caritativo concluded.
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