The struggles of Filipino Children today

The Universal Children's Day is celebrated worldwide to promote "international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improve children's welfare."

Every first Monday of October marks the celebration of "Universal Children's Day in the Philippines" by virtue of Proclamation No. 265 of 1967. The Universal Children's Day is celebrated worldwide to promote "international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improve children's welfare."

Children are considered among the most vulnerable population groups in Philippine Society. In a 2015, about 31% of all children in the country belong to poor families. Despite this significant number, the Philippine Government’s development strategies and actions have been insufficient and insubstantial, hence the conditions of Filipino children have not significantly improved throughout the years.

While there are certain provisions in the constitution and a number of laws which uphold the rights and welfare of children, there is no existing comprehensive code or act specific to the rights of children. 

In addition, strategic actions to uphold and protect children's welfare and rights are taken up mostly by local and international non-government organizations. However, despite the support of these groups, these cannot compensate for the seeming lack of government action to address the sector’s concerns and challenges.

Major problems which continue to beset the children's sector in the Philippines today include:

1.    Hunger and Malnutrition

There are still an estimated 7 million children across the entire country experiencing hunger and malnutrition. It is said to be driven by inadequate access to nutritious food, lack of education, and poor health and sanitation services. Hence, based on a separate study by international aid agency Save the Children, about 85 children die daily because of hunger and malnutrition.

One objective of the government's conditional cash transfers program (4Ps program) is to ensure that children's health is taken care of. Hence, beneficiary families are required to have their children checked by barangay health centers at least once a month. However, the implementation of this requirement remains wanting.

2.    Child Abuse

Based on the most recent study by the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), about 8 in every 10 Filipino children experience a form of abuse. Physical violence and psychological violence were cited as the most common forms of child abuse. Worse, most of the abuses happened at home.

Abusive acts committed against children at home identified in the study include unwanted touching, recording of sex videos, and unforced sex. Sadly, the study also revealed that less than 1% of victims of child abuse report these cases to authorities. 

Many of us continue to believe that children hold the future of any nation. However, the social, economic and environmental context in which our Filipino children live today can be characterized as "unbearable and inhumane." In the absence of political pressure for substantial policy and programmatic action to advance the plight of Filipino children, the government will continuously fail to recognize the terrible situation in store for the country in the immediate future. We may even have no future to talk about if we desert and neglect them today.    

About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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