MANILA, Philippines — In a bid to improve Philippine media reportage on online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC), child protection agency ChildFund Philippines and marketing and public relations firm Evident have proposed to journalists a set of specific guidelines on the ethical reporting of OSEC on Friday, November 22.
“On-ground data reveal that the Philippines is one of the hotspots for OSEC. ChildFund’s project with the Child Rights Network and Evident is a big step towards making sure that media reporting on OSEC is respectful, appropriate and accurate. Above all, we need to be focused on protecting the dignity and privacy of the children,” said Allan Nunez, ChildFund Philippines Advocacy Specialist.
The proposed guidelines set proper definitions of OSEC-related abuses, and provide principles for reporting issues involving children. This includes avoiding the use of sexualized images of children and safeguarding their privacy, among others.
“We want to #ShutdownOSEC. We want the stakeholders – legislators, media, the private sector, the general public, and children – to understand that OSEC is a type of sexual abuse and a crime against children that they have to respond to in a sensitive and effective manner,” Nunez said.
Based on the definition of the Child Rights Network, OSEC includes grooming, live streaming, producing and consuming child sexual abuse material, and coercing children for sexual purposes.
Grooming, a technique used by paedophiles for OSEC, is developing a relationship with a child to enable sexual abuse and/or exploitation.
According to the national baseline study on violence against children conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), sexual violence comprises around one in every five cases.
Incidence of violence is higher for LGBT children. The prevalence of violence, in all forms, is highest at home.
OSEC in Media
To come up with the guidelines, Evident collected and analyzed three years worth of news articles and releases on print and digital publications with national and provincial coverage.
Articles were then categorized into three news groups, namely: (1) coverage on OSEC crimes, (2) relevant bills/ laws and programs, and (3) incidence and case study reports.
The study reveals that while the understanding of online sexual abuse has evolved in the recent past, the terminology and tone of media reportage still needs further improvement. In many cases, child sexual abuse materials were incorrectly referred to as child porn, and reportage differed based on factors like gender.
“Our end goal is to raise greater awareness of the issue so that families and communities become aware of the potential dangers to their children.” noted Evident CEO Dominguez-Yujuico.
The guidelines were discussed at a media workshop attended by journalists from the country’s leading publications. ChildFund and Evident will conduct more runs of this training in the future.
“We need everyone’s help to curb this problem, and the media is a powerful ally in stopping OSEC in the Philippines. With these guidelines, we hope the media can be our partners in this important advocacy,” Dominguez-Yujuico concluded.
ChildFund Philippines is the country program of ChildFund International, an international NGO that works with local community organizations, children, young people and their families, governments and corporations to help create safe environments for children to thrive.
Child Rights Network is the largest alliance of organizations and agencies pushing for children’s rights legislation in the Philippines.
Evident is a communications agency focused on creating campaigns that inspire action from the right audiences. The company’s pillars are integrated marketing communications, corporate and public affairs, advocacy communications, and training and workshops.