11th AKO PARA SA BATA, The International Conference in Manila

The Child Protection Network Foundation and the UNICEF Philippines in partnership with the Council for the Welfare of Children and the Society of Adolescent Medicine of the Philippines, Inc. conducted the 2019 AKO PARA SA BATA The International Conference in Manila bannering the theme: “INSPIRED Teens” on November 19-20, 2019 at SMX Convention Center, Pasay City, Manila. The Conference aims to advocate for the adoption of the INSPIRED strategies – Implementation and enforcement of law, Norms and values, Safe environments, Parent and caregiver support, Income and economic strengthening, Response and support services, Education and Life skills and Delivery Systems, into the national and local programmes to end violence against children and adolescents.

Conference Chair Dr. Renee Joy P. Neri formally opened the two-day conference. Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rolando Joselito Bautista, in his keynote message, recognized that the young people are considered the most valuable resource of the country and in the midst of all the challenges facing teens, he encouraged everyone to provide them with a loving, trusting and supporting environment.

The event was packed with a menu of topics ranging from adolescent sexual and reproductive health, mental health concerns, gender and SOGIE concepts, to juvenile justice, VAWC, technology, cyber space and a host of other timely issues which affects the youth of the present. Breakout sessions were done simultaneously in the afternoon to cover all the topics while plenary sessions were held in the morning.

One of the more striking topics touched on technology and how social media has influenced the youth who have become dependent on “likes” and “shares”, according to Fr. Fidel Orendain, SDB. He advocated for e-safety: become digitally literate and keep adult presence in children’s lives by taking the lead in moderating and promoting reduction of exposure to gadgets, and finally, sharing more responsibility.

Another highlight of the event was the Launch of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Big Book “Ayoko Po Sana/ I am Sorry, But…” by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

AKO PARA SA BATA is an annual conference providing individuals and professionals with continuing medical, psychosocial care, child safety and legal protection training. This year’s conference coincided with the 30th Anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Over 2,400 social workers, doctors, police, teachers, guidance counsellors, psychiatrists, judges, prosecutors, NGO workers, parents, local government officials, and individuals in the frontline of women and child protection work including the Provincial Council for the Protection of Children from the Province of Cavite attended the 2019 Conference.