“Hindi pwedeng mawala ang Department of Educaton (DepEd) sa child protection. Tayo ang tulay sa reintegration ng mga children at risk at mga children in conflict with the law,” Undersecretary for Legal and Legislative Affairs Atty. Alberto Muyot said during the workshop on the guidelines and procedures on the management of children-at-risk and children in conflict with the law as detailed in DepEd Order No. 18, s. 2015.
The seminar workshop, which gathered Education Program Supervisors and Regional Guidance Counselors from the National Capital Region, is part of the celebration of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Week.
Usec. Muyot highlighted the need to protect children from early pregnancy, prostitution, drug use, smoking, alcoholism, violence, and suicide. These behaviors have been identified by the University of the Philippines Population Institute, through the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study in 2013, as risky and exploitive among adolescents.
The said DepEd guidelines are anchored on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and promotes non-discrimination, the best interest of the child, the child’s survival and development, and child participation. The guidelines provide detailed procedures on case management of children at risk and children in conflict with the law.
Children-at-risk behave in a way that can be harmful to themselves or to others. They also run the risk of being exploited to come into conflict with the law. Children in conflict with the law are those under the age of 18 who are alleged as, accused of, or adjudged as, having committed an offense under Philippine laws.
“We have to understand that adolescents are naturally curious. Everything adults do, they would want to try without thinking of the consequences; that is how they are and that is completely normal. This kind of curiosity—reckless as it may be—is part of their development. We cannot hinder them from their self-discovery, but it is our duty to minimize the risks and to protect them from harm,” Muyot said.
He also stressed that DepEd, as a member of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC), should ensure that children are protected whatever their backgrounds are. “We have no room for discrimination in DepEd, we have reintegration programs for children in conflict with the law,” he added.
Aside from the presentation of the salient features of DO 18, s. 2015, the two-day seminar workshop included comprehensive discussions and exchange of ideas on Alternative Delivery Modes, psycho-social interventions, restorative justice strategies and practices, and incident reporting and monitoring guidelines.