Nine year old “Lorna”, a Filipina, was forced to perform sexual acts that were live streamed on the internet, which was purchased by offenders in other countries.
Lorna and countless other Filipino children are at the mercy of online sexual offenders and cyberbullies.
In fact, eight out of ten Filipino children are at risk of online sexual abuse and cyber bullying, according the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
Many times, Filipino children like Lorna are pushed into the trade by their parents, close relatives, and neighbors.
According to Unicef, the Philippines has become a leading source of child pornography as more and more parents push their children into the trade.
For “Rosalyn” and her 6 siblings, cyber pornography was a way to keep hunger at bay. Rosalyn had a happy childhood until both her parents lost their jobs, and as the family sank into extreme poverty, a neighbor offered Rosalyn a job in cyber pornography.
She never received money directly, but noticed that, from then on, there was always food on the table. Eventually, her parents bought a computer and forced Rosalyn and a younger sibling to continue performing sexual acts on the Internet.
The number of criminal cases related to livestream pornography in the Philippines, also according to Unicef, rose from 57 in 2013 to 89 in 2014, and 167 in 2015.
Click next to see the highlights of the study by Unicef
Highlights of the study
The study, entitled “Perils and Possibilities: Growing up online”, is based on a poll of more than 10,000 children aged 18 from 25 countries, 40% of whom began using the internet before they were 13 years old.
Alarmingly, nearly 90% of the respondents believe that they can avoid online dangers. In Asia, 78% think that they will never be abused online.
The study also revealed that a majority of adolescents will turn to friends when they are threatened online.
Fifty-four percent agreed they would tell a friend, 48% would tell a parent, while 19% said they would tell a teacher.
According to the study, boys are less concerned about their safety online. More than two-thirds of adolescent girls or 67% strongly agreed they would be worried if they received sexual comments or requests from someone online, as opposed to less than half or 47% of adolescent boys.
More than half or 59% are interested in meeting new people online, despite the fact that more than half of the respondents or 53% agree that there are dangers online.
It takes a village to end online abuse
“We need to raise the awareness and vigilance of this issue so that parents and others understand that child abuse—in any form—is not just morally wrong, it is also extremely harmful to children’s health and development. Unfortunately, at the moment the situation is getting worse, not better,” said Lotta Sylwander, Unicef representative to the Philippines.
Unicef is urging governments, the Information Communication and technology sector, parents, the education sector, and the youth themselves to help end the exploitation and abuse of children online.
“Protecting children from abuse and exploitation is everybody’s business,” Unicef said.
Read: 19-month old victim of cyber-kidnapping: Prevent this from happening to your child
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