PASIG CITY, February 28, 2019 –Consistent with its vision of zero tolerance against all forms of abuse, exploitation, discrimination, bullying, and other forms of violence against children, the Department of Education (DepEd) enjoins all parents to be more mindful and attentive to the digital activities of children especially in the wake of the so-called “Momo challenge” and other online challenges that reportedly lead to self-harm and suicide among the youth.

Parents and guardians are urged to maintain an open communication with their children, educate them about responsible online behavior, monitor what they access online, and help them understand that their parents and guardians are the foremost people they can trust about matters that make them feel uncomfortable, coerced, or unsafe.

In school, the Department emphasizes with the learners that their online safety is just as important as their physical safety through age-appropriate and contextualized lesson plans that enable them to still appreciate the internet as a safe and enjoyable platform of learning.

DepEd also equips learners with the proper competencies that enable them to discern online issues, threats, and information authenticity through 21st century skills that are honed across all grade levels in all subject areas in the K to 12 Curriculum.

For instance, critiquing data and information skill is already being developed among learners from Grade 1 to Senior High School in subjects like Filipino and English. Media and information literacy (MIL) skills are likewise being sharpened among learners as early as Grade 4, specifically in the subject Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan. In Grades 11 and 12, skills that aim to cultivate creative and critical thinking among learners, thereby enabling them to handle online contents, are given utmost priority in the core subject MIL and the applied subject Empowerment Technologies.

Furthermore, DepEd continues to strengthen the implementation of its Child Protection Policy by emphasizing on online safety as one of the crucial components of the measure. Last November 2018, DepEd, in collaboration Stairway Foundation and the Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP), officially launched the #BeCyberSafe project aimed at ensuring that the scope of child protection extends online.

While it is disconcerting that such corruption of the young is becoming rampant in varying schemes, the Department, parents, teachers, stakeholders, and the community should stand and act united in protecting the youth from the many risks associated with the use of and presence in the internet. Distorted efforts meant to prey on the vulnerabilities of the youth should be resisted with proper guidance and education and by empowering the children with knowledge of their rights and responsibilities online and offline.