Learning about child protection law

July 08, 2019

Cases of online violence, including bullying, discrimination and sexual exploitation, have increased in recent years, according to a 2019 report by Save the Children Philippines. It cited that 5000 children aged 10-12 years old across 15 countries feel “unsafe on the internet and social networks.”  The dismal statistics are an indication that child protection needs to be strengthened.

As an academic institution, the Ateneo Grade School (AGS) recognizes its role in protecting children from harm and abuse. Various policies and program have been in place to foster a safe-free campus. AGS administrators, teachers and staff have also undergone seminars, lectures and workshops to address these concerns.

As follow up activity to the Summit on Safeguarding Minors and Vulnerable Adults, Atty. Nina Patricia Arroyo (B.S. Management ’93, J.D.’97) sat down with AGS administrators, teachers, moderators and coaches on July 5 to give an overview on child protection law in the Philippines.

Atty. Nina Patricia Arroyo gives an overview of child protection law in the Philippines.

There are many laws on child protection but what is important, she said, is to “understand the underlying principles.”

She noted that children inherently need protection because they are minors. “They are very dependent on adults. And because they are dependent, they are also vulnerable.”

Arroyo, who also assists the Vice President for the Loyola Schools on legal issues, talked about the 4 major principles on child protection: maximum survival and development; nondiscrimination; respect for the views of the child; and best interest of the child.

The first principle adheres to a child’s right to realize his or her full potential. This, Arroyo said, refers to the rights to life and the right to a quality life.” It includes the right to “play, recreation and leisure.” The one thing they need is balance, she said.

The principle of non-discrimination pertains to ensuring that the rights of every child is respected without prejudice of any kind. “We cannot discriminate on any basis,” Arroyo pointed out.

It is also imperative that children are able to experience their views, Arroyo said: “We have to respect the evolving capacity of the child. As they grow not just in age, they also grow in terms of maturity.

The last principle refers to warranting the best interest of the child. What the law states is that the “best interest of the child comes first,” said Arroyo. “The law recognizes that children are vulnerable and needs special protection; it is in the constitution.”

The impact of violence, abuse and exploitation on a child’s emotional, social and physical development can be destructive so teachers-as a child's second parent- need to take on protective roles to ensure that these never happen.