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DepEd launches website, hotline to help address child abuse

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday launched a website and a national hotline to help address the complaints of learners on violence and abuse.

During the agency’s culminating program of the 30th National Children’s Month, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte said that 1,871 child abuse cases were recorded from 2019 to 2020 by DepEd’s Learner Rights and Protection Office.

She said that this number was just the “tip of the iceberg” as their data as of October 2022 did not include figures from 10 regions that have yet to submit their reports.

“Kaya tayo nagugulat nalang sa balita kasi hindi natin alam. Kailangan natin sila na lumapit sa atin and magsabi kung ano ang problema [that's why we are surprised by the news because we don't know. We need them to come to us and tell us what the problem is] so that we know how to help and for the child to understand that they are being abused, they are exploited, and they are a victims of violence,” she told the agency’s Child Protection Unit (CPU).

“Because a child will not know that it is wrong. If you are four, three, or five years old, and you don’t know of anything else except ginugulpi ka, akala mo tama ‘yan [you would think that beating you was right],” she added.

Duterte said that DepEd will ensure a safe and nurturing learning environment by strengthening child protection mechanisms in schools. The agency will also teach learners to know about safety threats, how to respond to the threats, and to whom they should call or communicate when threats happen.

She also called on teachers and DepEd staff to help children who are victims of abuse.

“Dahil ang mga suspek ay mga katrabaho natin sa gobyerno, mas kailangan ng mga biktima ang ating support,” she said.

(Since the suspects are our colleagues in the government, the victims need our support even more.)

The Learners TeleSafe Contact Center Helpline aims to address child abuse victims’ concerns, such as a possible backlash, victim shaming, or harsh physical punishment. 

The helpline could be reached via landline, phone call, or text. Victims could also email or send a message on Facebook.

Meanwhile, the Child Protection Unit website could be accessed through DepEd’s website under The Secretary tab.

DepEd’s Learner Rights and Protection Office also plans to launch a podcast, videocast, and other projects and activities, including additional eLearning courses, in line with this initiative.—LDF, GMA Integrated News