‘Teen pregnancy, sexual abuse, bullying’

By: Inquirer.net November 23,2017 - 10:02 PM

In celebration of the World Children’s Day, a child participant writes her needs and concerns and asks legislators to protect children’s rights during a gathering held at the Museo Pambata in Manila on Thursday.
/Inquirer photo

Issues such as corporal punishment, teenage pregnancy and sexual abuse are among the most pressing concerns that personally affect Filipino children today.

In a children’s assembly organized by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), 32 children from all over the Philippines urged lawmakers and policymakers to listen and respond to their concerns.

Unicef representative Lotta Sylwander stressed that progress and prosperity would mean little when the youth suffer from persistent poverty and illnesses.

“We listen to children speak powerfully about their plight. We must acknowledge these and more challenges are faced by Filipino children,” Sylwander said on Thursday.

The Unicef and the Child Rights Network organized the “For Every Child, A Voice; A Children’s Assembly” at the Museo Pambata in Manila on Thursday.

The assembly was organized in celebration of the World Children’s Day on Monday.

Specifically, the top issues that four young speakers mentioned during the program were corporal punishment or physical and humiliating punishment; teenage pregnancy and adolescent reproductive health, sexual abuse of children; a lack of services for children belonging to indigenous tribes; and children affected by disasters, conflict and displacement.

For Airah, a 13-year-old who was forced to flee her home due to the Marawi City siege, she suffered from bullying during her stay at an evacuation center.

“I want to talk about bullying because when we stayed in Malabang Evacuation Center, we got bullied for being an internally displaced person. It hurts every time we get bullied. But I believe every child should have the right to live in peace and in a safe environment,” Airah told the audience.

Sylwander noted that in the home, some parents punish their children by sexually abusing them.

“It’s totally unacceptable; most of that is done by parents, siblings or cousins,” she told reporters in an interview.

The Unicef official added: “There’s not only physical or corporal punishment, but there’s also other abuse that’s going on behind closed doors in the Philippines and we need to open those doors and break the silence.”

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TAGS: abuse, bullying, pregnancy, sexual, teen

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