To commemorate Safer Internet Day, Unicef ​​is calling for increased protection of children online amid the Covid-19 pandemic. A report by the Department of Justice – Bureau of Cybercrime saw an exponential increase in cyber-trick reports for the Philippines to 2.8 million in 2021, from 1.2 million in 2020 and 400,000 in 2019. According to the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center, there were 131 children rescued, 16 perpetrators arrested and 49 operations carried out from January to August 2021.

UNICEF joins the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) – Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography (IACACP), the SaferKidsPH Consortium and the Child Rights Network in celebrating #SaferInternetDay on the theme “Click, Respect, Connect – CRC Next Level: Ligtas na Ugnayan Online.”

According to the Philippine Kids Online Survey, a study conducted by DSWD-IACACP with support from Unicef, the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on how children use the internet, especially how long they can go online, and the levels of risk to which they may be exposed.

“We have heard from children and young people that while the internet provides opportunities for growth and learning, it can also become a source of potential threats and abuse. It is therefore imperative that we continue our efforts to protect our children on digital platforms and help the government take a whole-of-government approach to doing so,” said Unicef ​​Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov.

Unicef ​​is leading the implementation of the SaferKidsPH program, an Australian government initiative. The pioneering consortium aims to reduce online child sexual abuse and exploitation in the Philippines and works with various sectors to ensure the safety and protection of children online.

Month-long activities for #SaferInternetDay include a forum with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) on technologies to combat and address online child sexual abuse and exploitation; a webinar on child online protection by the Council for Child Welfare, SaferKidsPH and Unicef; Safer Internet Hour on Twitter by the Child Rights Network and Unicef; and interactive social media activities designed for child rights advocates, parents, guardians and children.

UNICEF is calling for a renewed commitment from government and civil society to build synergy and put children’s rights and protection at the forefront of digital efforts. UNICEF urges the passage of the Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Bill through both houses of Congress and its effective implementation if passed.

To join Unicef ​​in making the internet safer for children, visit www.saferkidsph.org/help-stop-osaec/. For more information on Safer Internet Day activities, visit the SaferKidsPH, Child Rights Network and Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography Facebook page.