Preventing online child abuse in the Philippines
After her husband left her with only his debts, single mother Purificasion thought her life was at a dead end. She spent many sleepless nights desperately thinking up ways to make ends meet for her three children.
The pressure to survive a hand-to-mouth existence, evade the debtors chasing her family, and the impact of the pandemic were almost unbearable. Unfortunately, Purificasion’s teenage children bore the brunt of their mother’s stress and emotional outbursts.
In the Philippines, families struggling to make ends meet often break down, leaving children especially vulnerable to exploitation. This includes the online sexual abuse of children in exchange for money, a heinous crime that is rampant in communities like Purificasion’s.
Strong families, safe children
When Save the Children came to Purificasion’s home last year, she dared to hope for a way out of her situation.
As a single mother with three children aged 12, 15 and 16, Purificasion has struggled to contain her stress in the past.
With Westpac’s support, we’re helping address the root causes of vulnerability for families like Purificasion’s. The Protect Children program helps parents living in the southern Philippines strengthen their financial situation and build happier home environments. We’re also arming parents with knowledge to protect their children from online predators and empowering children to speak up against abuse.
After assessing the single mother’s situation, our team gave her seed funding to strengthen her small business selling deep-fried bananas. She and her children also participated in learning sessions in which children’s rights, protection, and positive parenting were discussed with the whole community.
The program has helped Purificasion earn enough money to survive, greatly reducing her stress and resulting in a happier home environment for her children. Purificasion says the awareness sessions she attended have really changed her perspectives on parenting.
“My guilt over not having enough food, enough money, and enough resources to provide for my children has made me a harsh and unreasonable parent. The Protect Children program helped me see the error of my ways.”
Purificasion is committed to giving her children more than she had growing up.
“My parents disciplined me by profuse scolding and beating as a punishment. But it no longer works for my kids today. They are smart. They now know their rights and understand why it is important,” she says proudly.
With Save the Children’s support, Purificasion was able to start a small business to sustain her and her three children.
Today, Purificasion is slowly building a life of happiness and security for herself and her children. The mother can earn up to PhP2,000 ($53AUD) on a good day. This money puts a smile on her face, food on the table, and shelter over her children’s heads.
Purificasion’s children are also back at school, studying hard and safe from the predators that try to exploit vulnerable families like theirs.
Finding a way forward
Since 2020, Save the Children Philippines has trained more than 10,000 children and more than 200 parents in child rights and preventing online child sexual abuse.
Thanks to Save the Children’s support, Purificasion has strengthened her relationship with her children
and is proud that they know their rights.
Together with law enforcement, victim survivors, child advocates, and local social services we’re doing all we can to prevent these crimes from occurring in the first place, as well as ensuring survivors get the help they need.
Above all, the program is strengthening families like Purificasion’s, so they can always find a way forward, no matter how impossible their situation may be.
The single mother says the program has transformed her. “My children are my life. I learned that my relationship with them is better when I raise them in love,” she says.
Photos: KC Lyn Razon / Save the Children.