Justice dep’t to craft new rules on handling child abuse cases | Inquirer News

Justice dep’t to craft new rules on handling child abuse cases

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 02:11 AM June 02, 2013

A YOUTUBE post showing an angry mother abusing her child inside a jeepney has caught the attention of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

“If we see any child who is abused, we should immediately notify a social worker or a law enforcer,” said De Lima, who spoke with reporters on the sidelines of the launch in Manila on Saturday of a new and more comprehensive protocol for the handling of child abuse and exploitation cases.

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The video, which has gone viral and has received reactions of disgust from all over the world, shows a mother pinching, slapping and punching her son over a lost pencil during a jeepney ride.

De Lima urged people to be aware of child abuse issues and report them to authorities.

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But De Lima said the public should also be careful to ensure that in the process of exposing and reporting child abuse cases, the distress suffered by the young victim is not aggravated. For one, the identity of the victim should be hidden.

“There should be no media interviews allowed for victims of child abuse and neglect, especially if the cases are under investigation. Even video interviews where the image of the child is blurred are discouraged. You may interview the law enforcer, to describe the case, but always observe non-disclosure of the identity of the child,” she said.

Child-victims should also not be repeatedly asked to recount what happened to them, she added.

With these and other problems in mind, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is crafting the new protocol on the handling of cases of child abuse and exploitation with more sensitivity and confidentiality.

Speaking at the launching ceremony for the crafting of this new protocol by the DOJ’s Committee for the Special Protection of Children, De Lima said the new rules would cover case handling in all its aspects—from the time an abuse is reported to the reintegration of the victim into society.

Highlighted in the protocol are the roles and responsibilities of various government agencies and their partners at different stages.

“[T]he continuing abomination and deviance that is child abuse require of us the social imagination, legal innovation and, above all, political will to locally and nationally develop and implement standards, institutional mechanisms, investigative and prosecutorial protocols, and a monitoring system that will be the protective net to rescue children and to send criminals to jail,” she said in her speech.

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She cited the DOJ and the Council of Europe’s sponsorship of a recent workshop on protecting children against online sexual violence in Southeast Asia.

The DOJ continuously trains family court prosecutors to make them more adept in handling cases.

The DOJ is also formulating a set of guidelines on how to handle and engage children themselves in the formulation of policy and improvement of processes.

In an interview with reporters after the ceremony, De Lima said the protocol was meant for a “smoother operation” of the rules set forth in Republic Act No. 7610 or the Anti-Child Abuse Law.

“It’s a guide to the duty bearers. [We have] to make sure everyone at each level is aware about protecting the child,” she said.

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TAGS: child abuse, Child Abuse Cases, Exploitation, Justice Department, Leila de Lima
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