“Face Your Peers” education guide launched to empower Filipino youth against commercial and online sexual exploitation

by Emily Manuel
Contributor, Eagle News

“Face Your Peers” is a guide developed for peer educators to combat commercial and online sexual exploitation of children.

(Eagle News) – To address the rising problem of commercial and online sexual exploitation of children in the country, a youth peer education guide called “Face Your Peers” was recently launched by an international non-government agency.

Plan International Philippines launched the peer education guide, on March 7, in time with the celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8.

“Face Your Peers” is intended for Filipino boys and girls, young men and women, aged 12-24 years old who are interested in becoming a peer educator on the topic of commercial and online sexual exploitation of children (CSEC and OSEC), according to Plan International Philippines.

The guide offers a new approach to decrease the number of CSEC and OSEC by raising awareness and capacitating children and the youth to tackle and prevent sexual abuse and exploitation. It also seeks to establish support mechanisms, especially among victim-survivors.

Pauline de Guzman, Campaigns and Advocacy Specialist of Plan International, explained that the culture of silence and fear of reporting contributed to higher incidence of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Marianne Dorothy, Girl Scouts of the Philippines, speaking during the “Face Your Peers” launch on March 7, 2019.

“With this module, we hope to not only capacitate those who are most vulnerable, but more importantly, create an environment that is supportive to the protection and prevention of children being abused and exploited,” she said during the launch of “Face Your Peers” at the Work Folk Collaborative Spaces in Makati City last March 7, 2019.

– Using sports to educate –

Meggie Ochoa, a jiu-jitsu world champion and #NotForSale campaign ambassador, uses sports to educate the youth. According to her “sports can actually be a platform [to raise awareness] because people are interested in sports.”

In 2018, she launched “Fight to Protect” which builds awareness on child sexual violence. She invites speakers to jiu-jitsu events to talk about the prevalence of sexual exploitation in the country and encourage participants to do something about it.

– Peer education as an effective tool –

Marianne Dorothy of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines believes that “peer education is a very powerful tool which will help us to prevent and protect ourselves and our fellow youth and children against sexual exploitation.”

She adds, “if we encourage the youth to communicate, they will be able to voice out their experiences not just for themselves but also for their co-peer.

– Nationwide roll-out –

(L-R) Pauline de Guzman, Meggie Ochoa and Marianne Dorothy during the “Face Your Peers” launch on March 7, 2019.

Plan International conducted its first training sessions last February 2019 with over 50 girls and boys from all over the country and have partnered with several youth and school-based organizations and local government units to continue the module’s nationwide roll-out within the year.

“Face Your Peers” will be available free for public access and download on Plan International Philippines’ official website.