March 2, 2024

Former American President John F. Kennedy said, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”
Hence, children must be properly nurtured. The National Children’s Month celebration this November aims to uphold and underline children’s common good and interests.
This year’s theme is “Healthy, Nourished, Sheltered: Ensuring the Life for All!” It highlights healthcare, nutrition, and shelter, which are necessary in a child’s development.
They need to be healthy to function well in their daily activities, particularly in their studies. A home or shelter provides them joy and comfort. Their belongingness will also be enhanced. This is vital in increasing their confidence and uplifting their morale.
Ironically, 12.4 percent of Filipino children have been living in extreme poverty in 2022, according to a policy research paper released by Unicef and the World Bank.
The 2022 Global Nutrition Report indicated the prevalence of stunting among Filipino children under five is 28.8 percent.
Malnutrition among children is a serious and perennial problem in the Philippines. It is high time that the government prioritizes its solutions. If it is not stopped, it will result in inactivity and feebleness of concerned children.
Poor performance in school is also due to malnutrition. It disturbs brain development. Malnourished children therefore find difficulty in understanding their lessons. They also tend to get sick, which lead to frequent absences. This negatively affects their academic performance.
Less severe stunting in Brazil and Guatemala was associated with higher adult incomes among men and women. This is presented in the 2008 Lancet series reviewed cohort studies from Brazil, Guatemala, India, the Philippines, and South Africa. It infers that normal growth is a significant contributory factor to economic progress. A higher salary means a higher tax contribution for funding government projects, programs, and activities.
A home or shelter is also a necessity for children. It is a special place for them to feel love, care, and security. Unluckily, there are approximately 250,000 and can reach as one million homeless Filipino children. They usually leave home and end up on the streets because of physical or sexual abuse or exploitation, and poverty.
This crucial issue calls for an urgent solution. The government through the Department of Social Welfare and Development needs to extend its services. They should cater to the needs of the concerned children. There must be enough homes for abandoned or street children that they will be taken care of. Their welfare is important for they are our country’s hope in the future.
The National Children’s Month paves the way for activities that help safeguard the rights and address the needs of the children.
Volunteer to help children. Everybody can be a volunteer for community programs such as tutorials, coaching a sports team, teaching Sunday school classes, feeding programs, or helping out in some other way.
Make a donation to children in need. One of the best ways to help the children is by donating either cash or in kind. There are lots of charitable institutions, organizations, or projects in our community that are waiting for our donations. Collected cash or kinds will be handed to unfortunate children.
The Department of Education is a great avenue to advocate and disseminate information about children’s rights and welfare. Children spend much of their time in school. They must be properly informed through the implementation of the Child Protection Policy.
DepEd’s celebration of National Children’s Month focuses on Republic Act 11930 or “An Act punishing Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children, Penalizing the Production, Distribution, Possession, and Access of Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials” and its recently enacted implementing rules and regulations.
School administrators, teachers, and personnel are encouraged to spread awareness among children, parents, and the community about all forms of child abuse, violence, and harassment. This is important in ensuring the safety of the children.
Suggested activities for the month-long celebration are hoisting of a streamer depicting the year’s theme; orientation or session on current children’s issues, particularly online sexual abuse; seminar on mental health; and school feeding and health care program. Conduct of child-friendly activities in relation to the theme that include art contests, poster, and slogan-making contests, children’s fairs, and photo exhibits are also encouraged.
A study on the pioneering scale of harm prevalence by the International Justice Mission and the University of Nottingham Rights Lab identified that nearly half a million Filipino children, or roughly one in 100 children, were trafficked to produce child sexual exploitation materials for profit in 2022.
It is really unfortunate that many children are being sexually abused or exploited through social media. Worse, their parents or relatives are the perpetrators. They compel their children to engage in online sex hubs and pornography just to earn money. Hence, children must be vigilant about their rights. They need to be alert for their protection and welfare.
Parents are the number one protectors of their children. Their support and guidance will ensure the safety of their children. They need to keep their eyes on the ball. There are many temptations or dangers that their children can encounter. They must closely monitor them and be aware of their whereabouts at all times. It is best to prevent them from harm than to face the consequences. Regrets always come at the end. Thus, every parent must develop a sense of keenness and attentiveness.
On the other hand, the government must offer sufficient and functional programs and projects to guarantee the welfare of the children. Public servants also need to consider inclusivity and diversity. They need to fortify the implementation of Gender and Sensitivity, Special Education, and Violence against Women and Children.
Everyone has an important role to play in the lives of the youth. Their future lies in our hands. We must endeavor to guide, assist, and protect the youth. Let’s empower and bring out the best in them. Remember, their success is a milestone for our country’s progress.