Ed­u­ca­tion dept in cam­paign for on­line safety

Gulf Times - - PHILIPPINES - By Neil Al­cober

The Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion (DepEd) has launched a cam­paign that aims to ed­u­cate par­ents, teach­ers and the school com­mu­nity on how chil­dren can be safe on­line, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Stair­way Foun­da­tion and the In­ter­net and Mo­bile Mar­ket­ing As­so­ci­a­tions of the Philip­pines (IMMAP).

The cam­paign dubbed #BeCy­berSafe con­sists of three com­po­nents — Project for Keeps, Dalir-Eskwela, and Chat­bot.

Project for Keeps is a so­cial me­dia move­ment cre­ated to em­power chil­dren, with the help of their guardians, to take con­trol of their on­line pro­files, and keep them­selves safe from on­line strangers and preda­tors.

Coined from the words daliri (fin­ger) and eskwela (school), Dalir-Eskwela of­fers a range of ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­ri­als in­clud­ing videos, brochures, and posters that dis­cuss cy­ber­safety, cy­ber­bul­ly­ing, on­line chat­ting, gam­ing, and pornog­ra­phy. Chat­bot is a so­cial me­dia page with a mes­sag­ing fea­ture which will be used as a helpline where child pro­tec­tion is­sues faced in the cy­berspace may be re­ported and ad­dressed.

“The launch­ing of this pro­gramme is cer­tainly very wel­come be­cause we are now recog­nis­ing that harm can be in­flicted not only in phys­i­cal ways, not only by the de­struc­tion of our in­fra­struc­ture and our fa­cil­i­ties, the books that we read, what we teach our chil­dren, but also through cy­berspace,” Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Leonor Bri­ones said.

“We ex­tend our grat­i­tude to our part­ners for help­ing us en­sure the best in­ter­est of our learn­ers,” she added.

“The Child Pro­tec­tion Pol­icy of DepEd aims to nur­ture learn­ers in a safe en­vi­ron­ment not only in the phys­i­cal sphere, but also the cy­berspace. In this dig­i­tal age when chil­dren so­cialise and spend con­sid­er­able time on­line, DepEd recog­nises that their right to pro­tec­tion against vi­o­lence and abuse should also be re­alised on­line,” DepEd Un­der­sec­re­tary Josephine Mari­bo­joc said.

“A child in the cy­ber world is a whole per­son with dig­nity, as much as a child in the phys­i­cal world. Let us re­spect and pro­tect each one of them, wher­ever they may be,” she added.

The Philip­pines has 67mn In­ter­net users.

“Ev­ery Filipino who uses the In­ter­net is also pos­si­bly us­ing so­cial me­dia. Across the re­gion, the Philip­pines has the very pe­cu­liar sit­u­a­tion. In many coun­tries, the so­cial me­dia pen­e­tra­tion rate is much lower than the In­ter­net pen­e­tra­tion, and the Philip­pines 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% or al­most half of the re­spon­dents aged 13-18 have ex­pe­ri­enced cy­ber vi­o­lence.“One of the very alarm­ing as­pect of this is in the con­text of so­cial abuse on­line, in par­tic­u­lar, hav­ing be­ing sent sex­ual mes­sages and hav­ing their sex­ual ac­tiv­i­ties shown on­line,” he said.Diloy said a sur­vey con­ducted by Stair­way in 2015 showed that three out of 10 chil­dren chat­ted with strangers on­line.

“We are in the world right now where chil­dren use tech­nol­ogy but in a risky man­ner. Tech­nol­ogy is be­ing used to ex­ploit chil­dren and, un­for­tu­nately, we are in a world where adults and chil­dren use the same plat­form. We all have the same smart­phone de­vices but we use it dif­fer­ently. There is a cul­tural de­tach­ment in tech­nol­ogy and on­line safety. When we started on­line safety in 2007, our main mes­sag­ing is that don’t talk to strangers on­line,” he added.

The IMMAP said chil­dren should be pro­tected from so­cial me­dia vi­o­lence.

“While our core mis­sion re­volves around ad­vanc­ing dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, IMMAP be­lieves that we need to nur­ture and sup­port the over­all dig­i­tal ecosys­tem in the coun­try,” Karen Alba-Alday, IMMAP’s Ad­vo­cacy Com­mit­tee Head, said.

“We need to cre­ate a bet­ter and safer In­ter­net in ev­ery Filipino. We are com­mit­ted to ed­u­cate all Fil­ipinos on their safety,” she added.

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