About three out of five Filipino children are experiencing psychological abuse, according to a study conducted by the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC).

In a Laging Handa public briefing on Wednesday, CWC Public Affairs and Information Head Elino Bardillon said as the country celebrates National Children’s Month, the agency is focusing on the status of their mental health.

Bardillon said the study was conducted before the pandemic in 2019 and that the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) has even worsened the situation.

Despite being considered as one of the most happy people in the world, he said Filipinos as well as children are beset by issues concerning mental health.

“Bago pa mag-pandemic – kasi iyong pandemic medyo malala kasi – bago mag-pandemic ay mayroon kaming ginawang pag-aaral, mahigit 3,000 mga bata, ininterbyu namin at lumabas doon na tatlo sa limang bata ay (Before the pandemic – because the pandemic was quite alarming – before the pandemic we had a study done, we interviewed more than 3,000 children, and it came out that three out of five children were) psychologically abused,” Bardillon said.

“Alam mo ba na maraming bata ay minumura, inaalipusta, so mga negative words – psychological abuse sila at nagreresulta iyon sa (Do you know that many children have experienced being cursed, insulted, so many negative words – they are psychologically abused and that results) stress, anxiety,” he added.

Bardillon also cited a situational analysis made by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) which showed that 10 to 15 percent of young Filipinos from 5 years old up to teenage years have mental health problems that even lead to suicide.

The Covid-19 pandemic, Bardillon said, contributed much to the stress and anxiety experienced by children, especially with the implementation of modular and online classes.

The pandemic also contributed to the increase in the number of online sexual abuse and exploitations in children that mostly happened inside their homes, with family members and relatives as perpetrators.

To help address this problem, the CWC has launched the “Makabata Helpline.”

Through the helpline, children or those who witness violence against children, among others, may call and report the incident.

“Makabata Helpline” may be reached through their mobile numbers 0917-8022375, 0960-3779863, or interact with them through their Facebook page.

Bardillon called on the public to respect the rights of the children and the youth “because they are, of course we know that they are your next generation, your future”. (PNA)