Around 1.8 million children in the Philippines are abandoned or neglected, according to UN figures. That is more than one per cent of its entire population.
Extreme poverty is a major factor in parents’ decisions to abandon their children. Sometimes they have been victims of natural disasters or of armed conflict, while some are simply unable to assume or sustain their parenting responsibility. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 2014 Annual Report indicated 4,316 children in need of special protection.
Abandoned children are often forced to work early, exposing them to dangerous working conditions and putting them under enormous physical and emotional strain. A 2015 study published by Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education Research (EILER) found that in plantation communities, around 23 per cent of households employed child workers while in mining communities, 14 per cent of the labour force is made up of children. Some children working in the mines are as young as five. As a result of being forced into work, these children do not attend school and are vulnerable to bullying, assault, sexual violence and trafficking.
Child abuse remains one of the serious problems confronting Filipino children. Eight out of 10 Filipino children are at risk of being victims of sexual abuse or bullying online, according to a recent study by UNICEF. An international poll found that 50 per cent of Filipino children think that friends participate in risky behaviours while using the internet.
CRIBS Foundation, Inc. was established to provide temporary care to dependent, neglected, abandoned and surrendered infants, and abused and exploited children. It was the first organisation to implement foster care in Manila and has since expanded to provide rehabilitation services to sexually abused child victims of human trafficking.
CRIBS provides immediate support to the children it supports while advocating for child rights on a community level. Through its programmes and services, CRIBS offers an alternative home environment for abandoned or neglected children up to four years of age. It also facilitates the placement of children within family care, addresses the healing and recovery of sexually abused girls, helps reintegrate girls with their families and provides education and information for the promotion of women’s and children’s rights.
Through its holistic approach, CRIBS works to empower its beneficiaries thanks to its highly engaged staff and a skilled Board, which includes ex-foster care parents. CRIBS has reached 150 people in 2015, including 101 children.
Photo: Jacob Meantez