Prevention is a coordinated effort
Updated: Feb 22
After the Philippine authorities use good police work and advanced technology tools to track down and stop abuse, the work carries on with organizations like Consider the Lily. When we partner with local authorities, we’re not just preventing commercial trafficking, but also OSEC (Online Sexual Exploitation of Children).
Before a girl is referred to CtL, local authorities have done a lot of work. They are experts in identifying crimes and building cases against perpetrators of abuse through diligent police work and sophisticated advanced technology tools. The work doesn’t end there. The healing process begins when the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) takes responsibility for these children until they can be placed in caring organizations like Consider the Lily.
When we partner with local authorities we’re not just preventing commercial trafficking, but also OSEC (Online Sexual Exploitation of Children). First, let’s clarify the distinction between OSEC and commercial trafficking. While both exploit children, the circumstances are different. It is increasingly more common for police to raid and rescue children being exploited in front of a webcam in their own family home (OSEC) than from bars and brothels (commercial trafficking). According to some research we pulled from the Philippines’ Child Protection Network, 8,948 cases of violence against children were reported to local authorities throughout the year; a staggering 73% of those cases were crimes of sexual violence committed against a child.
CAN WE BLAME POVERTY?
It is unfair to point the finger at poverty because nearly 21 million people in the Philippines and 650 million people worldwide live in poverty. The vast majority of those people protect their children, even in their extreme circumstances. Experienced local authorities know that crimes are not caused by a need to alleviate poverty within the home because exploiting children online doesn’t end when financial needs have been met; instead, it continues as perpetrators inflate their lifestyle with goods well beyond necessity. Abusers demonstrate again and again that money–not poverty–is the primary motivation.
Poverty is certainly a risk factor for victims, but typically not the catalyst for OSEC. Uneducated and displaced people–both adults and children–troubled by poverty can be vulnerable targets for a trafficker using phony promises for food, work, and comfort. Yet in the case of OSEC, the villain is most often a trusted family member pressuring a powerless child to perform abusive acts online and given the lie that they need to make money to provide for their family’s basic needs.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF PREVENTION LOOK LIKE?
It may not be a stretch to imagine a collaborative future where technology prevents OSEC, and authorities can quickly spot and stop an offense to a child. Until then, Consider the Lily will continue partnerships that work to heal and prepare each girl to participate in her community with the power and skills to serve well beyond her time in the CtL Family. We feel our aftercare endeavors are accomplished when we do four important things:
Stop known perpetrators by seeking convictions;
Develop a girl’s knowledge and worth through faith and education;
Model healthy work, relationships, and achievement; and
Give girls opportunities for service within her local community.
A healed, whole girl with an education, goals, faith, and a support system will not only avoid revictimization but be a strong force against these dehumanizing crimes. Seeing a variety of organizations and advocates share in January about National Human Trafficking Prevention Month fills us with the hope of a future without the exploitation of children, because awareness makes everyone a partner in the fight for freedom.