Date of this Version
Velazco, GA. Toward a gender-responsive, participatory community-based child protection system – Lessons from victim-survivors and service providers of a safe home and a community in the Philippines, October 2019 – June 2021. Plan International - Philippines & Love146, Inc. Issued August 2021.
This research project gathered from victims, survivors and community people their experience and knowledge of sexual exploitation and trafficking of children, their perception of circumstances that lead to exploitation, as well as measures that can stop it. From their responses, the aim was to formulate a framework of a gender responsive, participatory community-based child protection system, test this framework, and formulate a position statement based on the findings and lessons learned.
A survey instrument with content, age, and gender validation and a communityvalidated checklist of indicators of being sexually exploited, were the tools used to gather data from victims and survivors in an urban poor community in Manila, and in the provinces of Cebu, Marinduque, Rizal, Cagayan de Oro, and Iligan during the period October 2019-June 2021. Six batches of samples were used. A framework of interventions to protect the child was formulated. The interventions consisted of individual, family, and gender-focused counseling and training, and assistance with health, education, linking up with resources, and livelihood. By the end of the 6- month period of implementing the framework, the child subjects were enrolled in school, excited about their school supplies, and healthier; the parents were pursuing decent means of livelihood, the local government social workers were involved in monitoring the subjects, other people in the community were involved in implementing the interventions, and most importantly, signs of neglect, abuse and exploitation among the child subjects were eliminated. The subjects, their family, and the community gave positive feedback on the interventions, in interviews and discussions.
It is concluded that child protection is possible, with the participation of the child, the family, and the community. It should be holistic, targeting all areas of community-identified vulnerabilities, and integrated and interactive, rather than piecemeal. It should be done in the context of a changed value system facilitated by a therapeutic relationship between the child and his/her family on the one hand and the child care worker on the other hand. Gender responsiveness should help breed a generation that sees the value of each gender, is aware of, and transcends gender biases and prejudices that result in gender inequality, and works toward the empowerment of whatever gender one identifies with, while respecting and empowering those of others.
Assistance should not be a one-time dole out, but rather, a roll out, which generates a sense of responsibility, a motivation to maintain and grow the assistance, and a sense of ownership of whatever is gained from the individual’s or the family’s efforts. Finally, the mission of child protection necessitates not just a movement but also a move toward being part of the child’s life.