Two hundred twenty-seven public and private schools’ Child Protection Committees’ Chairpersons and Vice-Chairpersons were immersed in a training-workshop called “Proteksyon ng Kabataan Sama Samang Pinaglalaban Para sa Bagong Lucena” which aimed to strengthen and reinforce the implementation of DepEd policies on child protection, train the committees, and provide technical advice on Child Protection cases.

The event was held at Lucena City Teachers and Employees Conference Center, Ilayang Iyam, Lucena City, June 25 to 28. This activity was conducted in pursuant to DepEd Order (DO) No. 40, s. 2012 on DepEd Child Protection Policy, DO 55, s. 2013 entitled Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013, and DO 18, s. 2015 entitled DepEd Guidelines and Procedures on the Management of Children-at-Risk (CAR) and Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL).

Dr. Aniano M. Ogayon, Schools Division Superintendent, reiterated that teachers must learn to balance child protection and self-protection.

“The best interest of the child shall be the paramount consideration of all decisions and actions involving children. Also, as learning leaders, we need to continue learning for our learners and always aim for self-improvement to adjust to the new generation,” the SDS expounded.

Moreover, Dr. Joepi F. Falqueza, OIC-Assistant Schools Division Superintendent, expected participants to listen and reflect as well as read and connect.

Meanwhile, Chinita A. Tolentino, one of the Child Protection Specialists of SDO Lucena expressed, “Child protection is everybody’s business… it is important that the schools together with our stakeholders must have continuous training, retooling and discussion of matters which must be well-observed and be implemented.”

Edgar Marshall Briñas, Child Protection Specialist of SDO Tanauan City discussed Positive Discipline and Handling Disclosure that aimed to support the students’ growth & learning, and optimize the teachers’ success and focus on finding solution and creating better choices in terms of properly disciplining the students.

Briñas said that positive approach is guided with set of principles in all mode of interactions. Moreover, he also thoroughly discussed Child Sexual Abuse Prevention and Exploitation which included the different modes of child sexual abuse, the grooming process, and its different possible effects to the students.

Different eye-opening activities were also conducted which served as a reminder to the participants that in such situations, it is never the victim’s fault. Another important topic that was very timely and relevant was Online Cybersafety. Given the technology that everyone has access to today, cyberbullying has become easy and everyone is a possible target.

In addition, the Child Protection Specialist stressed the importance of privacy settings in our social media accounts, ignoring and blocking the unusual and hostile bullies, and the importance and proper way of screenshotting to serve as evidence of the cyberbullying. He emphasized also that as teachers, it is their duty to respond to the children’s need, to report,  and refer.

Atty. Priscilla Elizel Pascua, Legal Officer III, presented the current status of the reported child abuse and bullying cases in the Philippines and thoroughly discussed DO No. 40, s. 2012 and DO No. 55, s. 2013. She focused on handling procedure and conducting investigation in child-related cases. Furthermore, it was stressed that administrative offenses do not prescribe.

Emphasis was also given to RA 9262 VAWC also known as Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004 as a public crime.

These acts include physical violence, psychological violence, sexual violence, and economic abuse. These acts are punishable even if committed outside the house.

Atty. Jiandra Carmela Panganiban, SDO Lucena Legal Officer III with Atty. Pascua facilitated the session on Case Management Workshop. They presented different possible situations that occur in schools and had the participants presented how they handle the different child-related cases.

Tristan Jay Collantes, Child Protection Specialist, discussed some important reminders and reportorial obligations of the schools that are annually submitted to the Division Office.

Atty. Panganiban spearheaded the training-workshop in cooperation with Barbara Jane E. Barron, Division CPP Focal Person. The seminar will not be a success without the help and cooperation of Lucena City Association of Private Schools as well as the help and support of Lucena City Mayor Roderick A. Alcala. (Angelo S. Villanueva, EPS II SME, SDO Lucena City)