PN File

When it comes to criminal acts and offenses, boys are more highly vulnerable than girls, and they need as much care and protection from risks, according to the Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Sexual Abuse (CPTCSA), a member of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC). The JJWC a policymaking, coordinating, and monitoring body tasked through its member agencies with the implementation of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act.

The CPTCSA said the situation of boys can be seen on available data from Local Social Welfare and Development Offices (LSWDO) that served 4,832 children in conflict with the law (CICL) from January to December 2020. Of this number, 90% (4,348) are male and 10% (484) are female; more than half (55%) are aged 15-18 and 33% are 12-15. The top offenses committed by the children are theft, violation of Republic Act (RA) 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, rape, homicide and murder.

Under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the LSWDOs are manned by social welfare officers who attend to children in conflict with the law or CICL in their judicial areas in cities and municipalities. The CICL are children who are alleged as, accused of, or adjudged as, having committed an offense under Philippine laws.

Likewise, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported a total of 7,136 incidents or cases that involved 15,892 children from January to December 2020. Of the 15,892 children, 93% (14,822) are male and 7% (1,070) are female; 62% of the children are aged 15-18, while 35% are12-15 and 3% are below 15. The PNP noted that most of the children involved in drug-related cases are aged 12-18, and those who allegedly committed theft are 15-18 years old.

Zenaida Rosales, executive director of the CPTCSA, said the numbers showing that boys are highly vulnerable to crimes and offenses have deeper meanings when it comes to understanding their situations. “The statistics show that they are offenders, but to understand the numbers, we have to look at why they commit offenses,” she said. “The figures show that they may be offenders, but in reality, they are the victims who need help and support.”

The CPTCSA and the JJWC are working together in advancing the advocacy to put more attention to the boy child, specifically in support of the CPTCSA’s Blue Umbrella Day (BUD) campaign, an international day to encourage parents, communities, and societies to protect boys and lessen their risks from harm.

Atty. Tricia Clare Oco, executive director of JJWC, said, “Any campaign to raise consciousness on how to better care for boys and protect them from all forms of risks is a way of changing the norms and creating a system that is better equipped to help boys.”

The available LSWDO data further reported 10,097 children at risk (CAR) nationwide from January to December 2020, of whom 72% (7,300) are male and 28% (2,797) are female, and mostly from the age groups 12-18. The children were accosted for curfew violations, sniffing of solvent, and violation of the government-imposed quarantine protocols such as non-wearing of face masks.

Children-at-risk or CAR refers to children who are at-risk of harmful behaviors, or vulnerable and at risk of being pushed and exploited to come into conflict with the law because of personal, family and social circumstances. These include being abused by any person through sexual, physical, psychological, mental, economic or any other means, and the parents or guardians are unable to provide protection for the child; being abandoned or neglected; being out of school; being a street child or member of a gang; and living in communities with a high level of criminality or drug abuse, and in situations of armed conflict.

In the PNP data, Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Western Visayas had the highest proportion of child offenders. It also noted an increase of 1,505 incidents or cases and 3,411 children involved during the fourth quarter of 2020.

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) reported 37 CICL currently detained in their facilities nationwide, with Central Mindanao or Soccsksargen having the highest number. Majority (97%) of the detained children are males. Most of their offenses were drug-related of violation of RA 9165 (29%) and rape (10%).

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Regional Rehabilitation Center for the Youth (RRCY) served 1,738 CICLs. Boys also figure prominently in DSWD’s Bahay Pag-Asa youth care and juvenile intervention and support facilities nationwide, which served 1,148 children mostly aged 15-18, of whom 98% are male. Their offenses were drug-related, rape and murder.

Rosales of CPTCSA lauded the government and private sector initiatives to care for and reintegrate boys back to their families and communities, but she said, “Tackling the issues of boys and not being silent about it can also help stop the cycle of abuse that they experience, and which lead them to  commit offenses.”

In April, the CPTCSA launched the Blue Umbrella Day (BUD) international campaign to draw attention to the truth about boys and encourage parents, communities and societies to protect boys and nurture them in ways that best support their wellbeing. The campaign hopes to engage the United Nations into adopting the movement into an international day of advocacy.

The CPTCSA is part of the London-based Family for Every Child Global Alliance in initiating the BUD campaign, which will also simultaneously happening in India, Paraguay and Guyana. The Philippine BUD campaign is supported by 12 government agencies and six international NGOs.

The organization also runs Rapha Helpline that has trained counselors who offer free online care and support to those in need of psychosocial assistance from 8AM-5PM from Mondays to Fridays; via Globe (M-F): 0977-6520230; and Viber: Monday: 09617182654; Tuesday and Thursday: 09617182658; and Wednesday and Friday: 09617182655.