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80% of Pinoy children experience abuse – UNICEF report

Eighty percent of Filipino children have experienced at least one form of abuse in their entire lifetimes, according to the first-ever National Baseline Study on Violence Against Children (NBS-VAC) from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) revealed on Tuesday.



Physical, psychological, sexual, and cyber violence, along with armed conflict, natural and man-made disasters, were reported by 80 percent of the 3,866 respondents aged 18 to 24 years from 17 regions of the country in the survey conducted in 2015.



More than the figures, University of the Philippines – Manila professor and Principal Scientific Investigator Laurie Ramiro finds that the normalization of violence is worrisome despite more than half of respondents' (57.4 percent) claiming that they became “more resilient and strong” because of their experience.

“Our children look at the violence that they experience more or less positively. Some of their responses were they tried hard, they struggled to finish their studies, they felt better because they think they are being disciplined by their parents,” Ramiro said.



“It’s quite worrisome because as we know, corporal punishment and even verbal abuse, which is seen by most of our children as something which is acceptable and common in the Philippine setting, [can] have long-lasting consequences throughout [their] lifetime,” she continued.

The NBS-VAC in its report states that “all forms of violence have a negative impact on children’s development, and are discouraged based on research evidence that shows the long-term negative effects of violence on children’s mental, emotional and physical development.”

Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said there are government mechanisms in place to address violence against children.

Apart from centers all over the country that counsel and take in abused children, the Department of Social Welfare and Development also links victims in reported cases to legal support.

“We have centers all over the country. [These] are centers for children who have been sexually abused, mainly incest victims, some of them have become pregnant. We provide shelters for them, as well as their children. We provide legal support for the persecution of the perpetrators,” Taguiwalo said.



Causes behind violence against children, such as poverty, are also addressed with scholarships to indigent children and the 4Ps program.

“We have the 4Ps. It’s not directly addressing violence against children, but it has helped provide a more favorable environment so that the children can go to school, the mothers can supervise them better,” said Taguiwalo.

Study findings

Three of five children or youths experienced physical (66.3 percent) and psychological abuse (59.2 percent) and bullying (65 percent) while one in five (17.1 percent) were sexually violated.

Most instances of physical violence during childhood occurred at home (60.4 percent), with 12.5 percent of children reporting “milder” forms of corporal punishment such as being “smothered, tied up or chained, made to stand with a heavy object or made to stand on mongo seed or pebbles.”



About 59.2 percent of children experienced verbal abuse, threats, or threats of abandonment, during childhood. 7.9 percent of these children were subjected to severe psychological violence or felt or actual abandonment.

Gender factors in to violence: forced consummated sex is more prevalent among boys (4.1 percent for males, 2.3 percent for females) along with physical violence requiring hospitalization (2.8 percent to 1.9 percent); but there are more reports of females being murdered.

Common perpetrators of sexual violence are brothers or cousins. Males mostly experience sexual violence from cousins, fathers, and brothers.

LGBT children are also more prone to physical (75 percent to 65.9 percent in males and 61.8 percent in females), psychological (78.5 percent to 63.7 percent and 60 percent), and sexual violence (33.8 percent to 28.8 percent and 21.4 percent) than their heterosexual peers.



The NBS-VAC also states that armed conflict has displaced 2.6 percent of 2,303 participants in the survey; 94.6 percent claimed to have suffered from natural and man-made disasters in the past two years; and 43.8 percent of children aged 13 to 18 experienced cyber violence. — BM, GMA News