UNKNOWN to many, there is an increasing number of children in conflict with law and sexually-abused children in the province.
The Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office’s records show there are 374 accommodated cases of children in conflict with the law and abused victims, 242 of which are female and 132 are male.
Evangeline Rivera, senior assistant provincial prosecutor in Lingayen confirmed that the number of cases of children in conflict with the law is unusually very high and it is getting higher. “There are also cases of gang rape that involved minors and students,” she said.
“Very alarming and disappointing that there are cases like this in our province and these happened near school premises or inside homes abused by their neighbors, their kin. Most of the victims are 10 to 17 years old, and there are also infants, ” Rivera added.
She said that since the young victims cannot easily talk about their experiences, they cannot understand the essence of their cases, “that’s why we try to create a friendly environment for the child so he or she won’t feel intimidated.”
“I have to introduce myself as someone who’d like to help them, and I talk to them without their parents since they are normally afraid to speak out when parents are around to hear them talk about their experience,” she said.
Rivera said that without the narration of events, it is not easy to prosecute the cases.
The Family Court deduced that the rising incidence of sexual abuses of minors and by minors is due to the influence of pornography found on the internet.
To address the worsening situation, the provincial Government created a Crisis Intervention Center under the management of PSWDO for the temporary shelter of the child victims.
PSWDO Chief Emil Samson said, the Crisis Intervention Center accommodates victims most of whom are sexually abused or raped, victims of domestic violence or VOWC (Violation on Women and Children).
Some of the cases in the center have been referred to home for the girls and other institutions for rehabilitation and while some that ran away from their families were safely returned to their homes.
Among the cases in the center included a child that had to be rescued after the mother was arrested for drug peddling and the child was turned over to closest kin that was traced in Mindanao after 3 months; a 70-year old mother afflicted with amnesia that was reunited with her children after 35 years that took a lot of patience to and perseverance to make her remember details about herself to be able to trace her children in Rizal province; a number of runaway children who were returned to their families.
The Crisis Intervention Center is open 24 hours to accommodate and assist individuals. For referrals or immediate assistance, call 075-633-2471. (Nora Dominguez)
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