At a time when good news simply is tough to get, the Child Protection Network yields one. Last August this non-government organization that aims to help victims of child abuse worked to raise funds for abused children. Its Help Abused Kids campaign aimed to raise Php4M for 500 children urgently needing treatment. CPN exceeded its target and now has funds enough for 800 children.
“There is never a lack of compassion and to have this generosity at this time is overwhelming,” says CPN president Irene Martel-Francisco in a message to TheDiarist.ph.
The campaign was simple: a donation of Php8000 would give one abused child a full year of basic medical and mental health treatment.
CPN has 114 Child Protection Units across 58 provinces and 10 cities in the country.
Though it seems like mere instinct to safeguard our young, each year, countless cases of child abuse are reported all over the world. In a developing country such as the Philippines, children are particularly vulnerable as they have less access to health services, adequate nutrition, and other forms of protection. Thousands of young people rely on non-government organizations (NGOs) for the care and support necessary throughout their most impressionable years.
The Child Protection Network (CPN) is an NGO established in 1997; since then, it has worked with experts in the prevention and treatment of child abuse.
It was David Bradley who first approached the University of the Philippines (UP)-Manila and the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) to partner in establishing a child abuse clinic in 1996. Based on the research done by his company, Advisory Board Foundation, the reason there were street children was because of child abuse at home. His research also showed there were no services for abused children in the Philippines, especially health services.
“The UP Chancellor then was a pediatrician, Dr. Perla Santos Ocampo, and she asked me to head the clinic, although at that time I was already in Iloilo,” says Dr. Bernadette Madrid, CPN executive director. “I had the training to do this when I did my post-residency fellowship at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.”
This year, CPN raised funds to help support 500 children who are all victims of abuse. For every P8,000 donation, one boy or girl will get access to a year of medical and mental health treatment. CPN exceeded its P4 million target. One hundred percent of the proceeds went into the cause.
“COVID plus abuse is more than what our children can bear,” says Dr. Madrid. “COVID has increased violence and has also exacerbated the impact of the abuse.”
In 2019, before the pandemic, 1,355 cases had already been reported to the PGH Child Protection Unit (PGH-CPU). Doubtless, many more are now in need of help. Of these cases, a staggering 74.39 percent came forward for sexual abuse, despite the fact that the 2015 National Baseline Study on Violence Against Children in the Philippines (NBS-VAC) says that physical and psychological abuse are far more common. As such, there is a worrying likelihood that cases are being underreported.
Of the 1,355 cases reported to the PGH Child Protection Unit in 2019, a staggering 74.39 percent came forward for sexual abuse
Other children in touch with PGH-CPU experienced physical abuse, psychological abuse, bullying, and other forms of mistreatment.
Martel-Francisco says: “It is absolutely essential that we help these abused kids get treatment. A donation will aid a child through dark days.”
Through comprehensive and coordinated care, CPN’s children have shown much improvement. PGH-CPU gives abuse victims access to medico-legal examinations, psychological assessment, and psych therapy.
This is done by the CPU social worker who does risk and safety assessment. Before the pandemic, they also did home visits and worked with barangay and local government unit social workers. During the pandemic, digitized services were added, which include teleconsultation and loaning cell phones to high-risk patients.
“COVID plus abuse is more than what our children can bear,” says Dr. Madrid. “With the ongoing pandemic, we have increasing suicide ideation and suicide attempts by the patients that we see. COVID has increased violence and has also exacerbated the impact of the abuse.”
“Now that we are mostly homebound these days, with the pandemic in our midst, it struck a chord with me that not all homes are safe havens,” says trustee Lizzy Razon. “For others it is a nightmare scene with no respite, with face-to-face classes on hold. Our work at CPN never ends; now more than ever we need to help those trapped in these terrible circumstances.”
“The first child protection unit in the Philippines started in a small refurbished canteen at PGH,” says Atty. Katrina Legarda, director of the National Network of Women and Children Protection Units. “We are now 114 units in 58 provinces and 10 cities in the country. It is so fulfilling to help children—as many as we can. With the help of all generous souls, we can establish more units, train more child protection specialists, and help more children.”
The board of trustees is composed of president Irene Martel-Francisco, Renna Hechanova Angeles, Mia Borromeo, Alice G. Eduardo, Lizzy Razon, Mons Romulo, Julio Dy Sy, Jr., and Johnny L. Velasquez.
Donations may be coursed through CPN’s BPI bank account, in the name of the Child Protection Network Foundation, Inc., account number 3281-0272-03. The bank branch is the Midland Plaza Condominium in Ermita, Manila.