A year after launch, DepEd helpline gets 213 cases of abuse of students

a year after launch, deped helpline gets 213 cases of abuse of students

A year after launch, DepEd helpline gets 213 cases of abuse of students

MANILA, Philippines — Since its launching in November last year, the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Telesafe Contact Center Helpline has received 213 reports of abuse of children. At a program in Manila on Monday marking the culmination of National Children’s Month, Vice Presiden Sara Duterte, who is DepEd secretary, reported that verbal abuse was the most common form of violence experienced by students in schools, followed by sexual abuse and physical bullying. Duterte later told reporters in an ambush interview that some complaints led to the filing of administrative charges against teaching and nonteaching personnel. In cases that warranted the filing of criminal charges, help was sought from the police while in “simple cases” of misunderstanding, priority was given to reconciling the parties involved, she said. “We start with dispute resolution. We don’t immediately punish, [instead] we resolve the conflict inside the school,” she said. The helpline, part of DepEd’s Learner Rights and Protection Office (LRPO), was established to offer immediate assistance, intervention and referral in relation to any reported incident of abuse against students. ‘Global epicenter’ In a document sent to the Inquirer, the LRPO gave a breakdown of a total 1,709 complaints it received from November 2022 until Nov. 27 this year. The majority of the reports, the LRPO said, were complaints about being unable to enroll or issues regarding the collection of funds in some schools. But there were 77 reports of verbal abuse, followed by 70 about sexual abuse and 66 about physical bullying, for a total of 213 cases involving violence. In her speech during the program, Duterte lamented that despite efforts and interventions to ensure the protection of children, many continue to live in conditions of violence and poverty with inadequate access to education, health care, shelter and other basic services. Citing the report of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, she said the Philippines “has become the global epicenter of the live-stream sexual abuse trade, and many of the victims are children.” “The magnitude of this problem is doubly unsettling because our children have access to the internet, where information exchange is fast and even real-time,” she said, adding that apart from sexual abuse, children were also subjected to online bullying, hate speech, and other forms of violence. The LRPO said it would implement policy interventions, emphasizing its advocacy to protect and uphold the rights of students. Safe spaces policy Among its

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