During the Talakayang Makabata Press Conference, CWC, DOH, DSWD and other government agencies affirmed that stress management programs and services for communities and children should be prioritized by the Local Government Units as we continue to face the adverse effects of COVID-19 pandemic and break into the new normal.
Usec. Mary Mitzi Cajayon Uy, CWC Executive Director expressed that “as children (15-18-year-old) are now allowed to go out, it is imperative that our local officials strengthen their initiatives and programs to ensure that our children are supported with their physical, emotional, spiritual and mental needs. If we, adults are stressed out by the effects of this pandemic, our children are experiencing more stress and anxiety. Guidelines should be strongly in place once they are allowed to go out”.
She emphasized that social workers and other relevant professionals and paraprofessionals along with the active involvement of the community leaders through its Local Councils for the Protection of Children/ Barangay Councils for the Protection of Children serves as the first line of defense of children against abuse and the one who would bridge them to appropriate agencies for suitable interventions.
Roundtable discussions amplified the aggravated mental health issues faced by children due to circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the series of community quarantine that limits the mobility as children are prohibited from going out of their homes.
In the CWC report, it showed that adults are often painted as the most vulnerable during the time of a pandemic. Thus, putting the children under a less aggravated sector of the society during these challenging times. In contrary, she presented alarming data of 12, 197 children that caught the virus of which 55% or around 8,000 have already recovered. A surge in the National Center for Mental Health’s crisis hotline reported 30 to 35 calls daily from March to May 2020, averaging to 953 calls within the period. Most of the calls received are anxiety related concerns, seeking referral to a psychiatrist, and inquiry regarding hospital services.
COVID-19 has disrupted the environments where children thrive and this affected their rights to survive, develop, be protected and participate safely and fully. The health and economic distress within the families coupled with restricted movement increased the exposure of children to different types of abuse including but not limited to physical, sexual, psychological, neglect, exploitative labor, and social exclusion – concerns which existed long before this pandemic. With the surge of online engagements, these types of abuse take place both online and offline setting.
As the focal government inter-agency body for children, the CWC promises to reaffirm its commitment to promote the protection of all children and their rights, empower children to protect themselves and report experience of abuse, provide practical support to parents and caregivers on how to care for children and themselves and guide LGUs to efficiently deliver their expected roles and functions within the context of COVID-19 pandemic.
The Talakayang Makabata is the first ever digital conference hosted by the CWC to lauch the celebration of the National Children’s Month 2020. The activity aims to maintain a safe awareness-raising campaign and jumpstart the 28t National Children’s Month. The panel was attended by Undersecretary Mary Mitzi Cajayon-Uy (CWC), Assistant Secretary Glenda Relova(DSWD), Assistant Secretary Alma Ruby Torio (DepEd), Executive Director Tricia Clare Oco(JJWC), Executvice Director Azucena Dayanghirang(NNC) Ms. Frances Prescilla Cuevas(MPMMH-DOH), and Mr. Jayson Yañez(Child Participant, Child Fund Philippines, Inc.). The panelists have shared their accomplishments and challenges in upholding the rights of children in the time of pandemic.