DepEd launches anti-child abuse helpline
The Department of Education (DepEd) launched on Thursday its Learner Rights and Protection Office (LRPO) and Telesafe Contact Center Helpline to address child abuse and strengthen child protection.
During the culminating activity of National Children’s Month, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte said DepEd data noted 1,871 cases of child abuse from 2019 to 2020.
But, with the Helpline and LRPO, she expected the numbers to go up “because there’s already an avenue where the learners can report.”
Duterte said there should be modules that teach children to recognize violence, exploitation and sexual abuse because kids as young as 4 are not capable of distinguishing between “right and wrong touching.”
Don’t suffer in silence
“In cases of sexual violence, victims would rather suffer in silence, endure the abuse and hope it stops. They choose to suffer in silence because of fear of being shamed, fear for their security and of their loved ones, or fear of being blamed by other family members for breaking the family,” she said.
“And we, the entire country, the entire Department of Education, want to change this,” she added.
Learners can contact the LRPO via email [email protected], or call 8637-2306, 8632-1372, or text 0945-1759777.
“The Helpline will also address victims’ concerns, such as a backlash, victim shaming or harsh physical punishment,” Duterte said.
She lamented how people repudiated her stand on professionalism, contained in DepEd Order No. 49 that urged educators to observe professional conduct in their interactions.
“If you are a teacher, you have no business drinking alcohol with your students. And if you are a teacher attracted to a student you are drinking with, that is preliminaries to what you want to do to the child,” she said.
Duterte said she reminds teachers to be professional in “dispensing service to these students who are your clients.”
The DepEd’s LRPO, formerly the Child Protection Unit, will launch podcasts, videocasts and eLearning courses in collaboration with the Stairway Foundation Inc. and Child Protection Network.
“DepEd will teach learners to know about safety threats, how to respond to the threats, and to whom they should call or communicate when threats happen,” Duterte said.
In September, the DepEd suspended five teachers from Bacoor National High School in Cavite for violating the child protection policy and grave misconduct, which stemmed from a social media post that called them out for alleged sexual exploitation and inappropriate behavior toward students.
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