Yan is a clever boy. Naturally talented but also a hard worker, Yan is an academic achiever who gets high marks and joins several extra-curricular activities in school. His dream is to become a computer programmer. Now aged 17, and while finishing secondary school, he devotes hours and hours to his passion, writing in the school newspaper. Hard work pays and last year he was honored with the Campus Journalism Award at school.
Yan was raised in a traditional Filipino family. His mother is a housewife who brought up Yan and his three siblings and his father works as a supervisor in a steel trading company. They all live in a middle class house in Lapu-Lapu, a suburb of Cebu City, in the Philippines. Metropolitan Cebu has a population of roughly one million people. Yan and his family have a normal life like millions of families around the world.
Proud of not asking his parents for daily allowances, Yan works as a dishwasher in a food stall in his free time to get some pocket money to hang out with friends on weekends. Not enough money, though, to buy his brand new smartphone. This was purchased last year after Yan sent some pictures of himself naked to an adult man through an online dating site. It was easy money and Yan didn’t feel that he was being exploited.
Yan, like many Filipino children, has a very good command of English, and as any other boy of his generation is comfortable and proficient using technology. When his friends told him he could earn easy money, he didn't give it a second thought and registered in online dating sites where he started sending pictures to adult men in exchange for money.
Online Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Philippines often starts like this. Children engage other children to perform sexual activities in front of the camera or send pictures to online adult perpetrators. The children are not aware of the dangers of these behaviors and, often, they don’t realize that they are being exploited. Online Sexual Exploitation of Children is growing at an alarming rate in the Philippines. The fact that there is no physical contact between predators and children suggests to some that there is no harm done. But there’s more. Online Sexual Exploitation of Children commonly opens the door to other forms of child abuse and exploitation like sextortion and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.
When Yan first came to Terre des Hommes Netherlands partner’s Activity Center his status was assessed and he received psychosocial assistance immediately. Then, he joined a support group of children who opted out from Online and Commercial Sexual Exploitation. Through child dialogues and educational assistance, Terre des Hommes Netherlands and its partners are helping children overcome their traumas and become agents of change among their peers and communities. We believe that giving voice to children and engaging them on projects on prevention is key to ensure that children understand the risks of exploitation online and are able to protect themselves and their peers.
Now, while Yan prepares to take a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology he has become an active member helping others to recover from abuse and exploitation. Still on the pathway to leave behind his abuse experiences, with such leadership skills, he has become a natural born influencer totally committed to children’s rights.
Awareness is crucial to prevent children from perpetrators so Yan is assisting our community outreach workers during street education and area night visits to sensitize other children about sexual exploitation.
Terre des Hommes Netherlands and its partners in the Philippines are fighting against all these forms of Child Exploitation. We’re collaborating with law enforcement agencies regarding investigations, arrest and prosecutions of online child sex offenders.
We’re promoting a new generation of children’s rights ambassadors, and with your help, we are helping children like Yan in their journey to healing and being a survivor of Online Sexual Exploitation of Children.
Senior Regional Communication Officer Asia
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
+855 23 222 553 I +855 77 680 812