Free from online violence: A call for empowering and safe digital spaces for children 

Plan International Philippines implements SAFE Online, an EU-funded project that tackles online sexual exploitation of children and promotes a digital environment free from violence and abuse. 

About SAFE Online 

Technology has become an integral part of people’s day-to-day lives. The rise of the digital era has given us the opportunity to communicate with our loved ones, have discussions with people from across the globe, and support and promote campaign that align with our personal beliefs.

Social media provides spaces where people, including children and youth, are free to speak up, express themselves and lead change in their communities.

However, with our lives increasingly moving online, it’s important to acknowledge that the virtual world is a vast and unregulated space that may put children and young people at risk. This is why, now more than ever, it is crucial that we take immediate action to protect children and young people from the threats of the online world. 

Plan International Philippines, together with Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), is implementing SAFE Online (Systems Approach For Ensuring Online Safety and Empowerment of Children and Young People), an EU-funded project. The project protects children and young people from online sexual exploitation and violence. It empowers children and young people to protect themselves and their peers from the threats of the online world and influence them to take collective action through lobbying for policies that will uphold strong protective measures.  

The SAFE Online project is being implemented in the city of Manila and Bacoor in Cavite and the municipality of Mayorga and MacArthur in Leyte given the at-risk communities and reported cases of online abuse. 

Violence-free online communities through lobbying and collective action 

Plan International Philippines has been heavily involved in discussions about the salient provisions of the recently passed RA 11930 also known as the “Anti-Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) and Anti-Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials (CSAEM) Act.”

Joining other child and human rights organisations, Plan International Philippines has proposed programmes and activities and shared best practices relevant to the implementation of the said law during a briefing with Senator Risa Hontiveros (the author and sponsor of the bill), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and tech giant Facebook Philippines.  

John Paul, one of the trained CAY facilitators helping one of the participants in reading the prepared explanation on his output. Part of the celebration is the Poster Making Contest of Barangay 737, Manila. The theme of the contest revolved around the discussion during the roll-out session and their thoughts with the question answered through the CAY’s art- “Bilang bata o kabataan, paano ka makakatulong sa pagpuksa ng OSEC?”
John Paul, a trained facilitator, helping one of the project participants with reading his contribution.

With the recent passing of RA 11930, Plan International Philippines, along with the other members of the Child Rights Network (CRN), hopes that the provided suggestions are taken into consideration and can support the proper implementation of the law. 

As part of SAFE Online’s commitment to eradicate online sexual exploitation and abuse of children through collective action, a workshop on Digital Citizenship and Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC) Education was attended by over 750 child protection system actors.

The attendees consisted of:

  • Community leaders
  • Healthcare workers
  • Teaching and non-teaching personnel
  • Police officers
  • Lawyers
  • Parents.

The workshop’s objective was to strengthen community-based child protection mechanisms, including designing efficient and gender-transformative processes for handling child abuse cases.  

Children and young people participants aged 6-17 years old attending the Roll-Out Session on Digital Citizenship and Protection of Children from Online Sexual Exploitation at Ortega Court, Barangay 737, District V, Zone 80, Manila.
Children and young people aged 6-17 attending the roll-out session on Digital Citizenship and Protection of Children from Online Sexual Exploitation in Manila.

Children and young people’s role

Plan International believes children and young people should be free to be themselves in the digital world—they should be able to maintain social connections, campaign for social good, and develop positive digital footprints for themselves and for others.

This is why SAFE Online continuously conducts consciousness-raising workshops and seminars specifically designed to inform children and young people of their rights and empower them to foster healthy relationships in online spaces. SAFE Online hopes that children and young people, as well as their parents and guardians, will appreciate that the online world is a place for them to find their voice, explore their identities, and support each other positively. 

Coleen, 14 years old, one of the participants of slogan and poster making contest during the celebration of National Children’s Month on November 19, 2022. Coleen exhibits her work with an emphasis on the online safety tips for teens.
Coleen, 14, one of the participants in a slogan and poster making contest during the celebration of National Children’s Month.
The slogan and poster outputs from the Children and Young People (CAY) of Barangay 740, Zone 80, District V, Manila.
The slogan and posters made by children and young people in Manila.

2023 SAFE Online Newsletter


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Protection from violence, Gender-based violence