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Manila – The Institute for Labor Studies was invited to present its issue paper during the second regular meeting of the National Council Against Child Labor (NCACL) last April 21, 2022, via the Zoom online platform.

The issued paper titled, “Government and Civil Society: Advancing Efforts to Fight Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC),” was authored by Arianne Ishreen Bucar, Labor and Employment Officer III and Ms. Camille G. Dumalaog, Senior Labor and Employment Officer, both from the Workers Welfare Research Division of the ILS.

It was initially presented in February 23, 2022 during the first meeting of the NCACL Enforcement Technical Working Group via Zoom.

The issue paper takes off from the Institute’s 2020 Revive &Thrive COVID-19 Webinar Series. As the 8th webinar in the 10-part series, “#KeepKidsSafe: Advancing Efforts to Fight Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC),” the event gave an overview and interactive discussion of Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) making the public aware that cases of OSAEC is increasing in the Philippines and show how OSAEC is perpetuated by an organized group.

With the spread of COVID-19, everyone was mandated to stay at home, especially children. As parents lose their jobs, children may be forced to work in order to augment the family’s income. Children who are already working may take up even longer hours and heavier work (United Nations, 2020).

Moreover, one of the worst forms of child labor had an exponential increase because of the imposition of lockdowns. The DOJ underscored 279,166 cases of Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) from March 1 to May 24 in 2020. This is a far cry from 76,561 reported cases in the same period last year.

The surge is attributed to the increased usage of internet at home. Worse, in most cases, the online traffickers are close family members of the children (Pulta, 2020). Family members who perpetuate OSAEC often excuse their behavior by viewing these online offenses as less harmful than those involving physical contacts. The proliferation of OSAEC materials online tend to re-traumatize and re-victimize children long after the act has been committed (International Justice Mission, 2020).

The webinar discussion was divided into a three-part discussion with panelists representing National Government Agencies, Local Government Units, and Civil Service Organization.

One of the important recommendations is to encourage OSAEC-related data owners, academics, technology designers, and OSAEC experts to collaborate in increasing global knowledge about this issue. ILS itslef is also set on undertaking a webinar on good practices and initiatives to improve the country’s ability to protect children online. This activity intends to highlight various interventions being done by the national government, local government units, and civil society organizations.

Download a copy of the Issue Paper here: https://ils.dole.gov.ph/issue-paper/2022-issue-papers/government-and-civil-society-advancing-efforts-to-fight-online-sexual-abuse-and-exploitation-of-children-osaec