I’m Jed. I tend to keep things to myself and try not to draw too much attention. But a harassment experienced by a gay boy in our school made me realise that I need to use my voice and make a difference.
I live in a timid and conservative community, where people don't talk about uncomfortable things like sex, harassment, and exploitation. But the truth is, those things are happening, and they're happening to my friends.
During the pandemic, I realised that I need to do something for other children who fear going out and seeking support while also feeling unsafe inside their homes.
I became the chairperson of a youth-led organisation called KTACT, which stands for Kabataang Taguigeño (Children from Taguig) Against Child Trafficking. We're working with different organisations to help our friends and children our age to report their experiences and to stop the occurrence of child sexual exploitation in our community.
Right now, we were able to train 40 out of 4,000 students in our year level, it's a small step but at least we're moving. It's not an easy task, especially because the adults in our community are passive in reporting such cases, they listen but we do not feel their actions. Maybe because they do not see the impact it has on us? I don't really know. While us children fear reporting because of the backlash we might receive. We do not feel that our community is ready to listen to us and is open to discuss these problems.
My friends do experience various types of abuse, from harassing messages, groping, unwanted touches on our private parts, to explicit images we received and being asked to give. And it's not just happening to girls, but also to boys and especially to my LGBTQIA+ schoolmates.
Before I attended a training conducted by PACT, I was reserved and did not have the confidence to speak out. I do feel that I have nothing to do to help my friends. I feel hopeless and too small to speak about our truths. But my participation in the community education sessions conducted by PACT paved the way for me to have enough confidence and know-how to address and support children experiencing harassment and sexual abuse both online and offline.
I am here to create a safer world where children and young people have a voice and platform to be heard.
I am using my privilege to take space and to communicate the realities of the young people I work with.
My dream is to create a world where children and young people are heard, valued, and safe. It's a big dream, but I'm willing to work hard to make it a reality.”
Jed is a young boy from the Philippines working with Terre des Hommes Netherlands in the Philippines, ECPAT Philippines, Bidlisiw Foundation and Philippines Against Child Trafficking (PACT) to stop online child sexual exploitation (OCSE). Currently, Jed is part of the Project CONEC (Creating a safer Online Environment for Every Child) that aims to strengthen systems of protection of child victims of OCSE. To date, Project CONEC directly reached 2,193 people (children and community members) and empowered 4 provinces in the Philippines in reporting OCSE concerns.