CEAP ensures protection for the Filipino Child even during COVID-19

May 12, 2021

On March 25-27, 2021 CEAP held its first ever virtual Child Protection Summit using its official Facebook page and CEAP Channel on YouTube as broadcast platforms. 


In his overview of the Summit, Mr. Jose Allan I. Arellano, explained that with the COVID-19 pandemic necessitating a shift in the teaching-learning set-up from face-to- face to distance-learning using the digital platform or modules the new set-up brought with it a new set of challenges on child protection since the children are exposed to online risks. It is in this context that the 2021 CEAP Child Protection Summit was conceptualized with the following objectives: we seek to:


  • address issues, concerns and needs of the schools pertaining to child protection especially during this time of distance and/or online learning; 
  • serve as a venue where schools can share their best practices on child protection; and
  • provide concrete steps on how to help protect the Filipino child.


As a preliminary activity to find out the state of the Filipino child in this time of COVID 19 pandemic,  the CEAP Adhoc Team for Child Protection conducted a survey and over 44,000 school children from CEAP member-schools from over the country responded. This is the largest number of respondents in CEAP’s history. Most responses came from Grades 10-12 students and around 21% from K-6 levels. Out of the 44,000 who participated in the survey, over 28,000 are currently experiencing purely online distance learning and 59.4% of them get assistance from their parents during this time of distance learning. During this pandemic, they miss their face-to-face classes, social interactions, bonding activities, and other routines they have gotten used to over the years. They experience boredom and  feelings of sadness, fear, and anxieties having to deal with being at home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To cope with what they are feeling and to fill in the void, they have turned to music, arts, sports, and getting more sleep, and many have even turned to internet-based activities like games and apps.  Their greatest fear is getting sick and catching Covid-19.. Nevertheless, nearly 90% of respondents feel that they receive the support that they need. 



In sum, the Filipino child knows that friends, family, and God are by their side and they are looking forward to the day when this pandemic will end, when life goes back to the familiar routine. These answers suggest that the Filipino child finds value, happiness, and positivity in family and friends, and with both the home and the school. 



The Summit ran for three days featuring one webinar per day within its three-day duration.  Setting the tone for the Summit, CEAP Region 7 Trustee, Fr. Fidel Ma. Orendain, SDB who presided over the Opening Eucharistic Celebration coinciding with the Feast of the Annunciation, shared with the participants that  from the beginning of Mary’s story in the annunciation to the coming of the Holy Spirit in Pentecost, she showed the importance of having the right relationship with God and the right relationship with God’s people - even in the moments when she did not quite understand or might have been confused herself, she relied on and built strong relationships. He encouraged the participants to be like how Angel Gabriel was to Mary - a help to the young people in their time of confusion. “Let us be like angels announcing good tidings to the children, listening to their doubts and assuaging their heartaches, helping them to heal and move out of the  darkness they occasionally find themselves in”, he said at the end of his homily.   



 In the webinar on the first day, “Mental Health in the Philippines: The Child in Perspective”, Dr. Gina R. Lamzon, Coordinator of the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support- Special Interest Group (MHPSS-SIG) of the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) discussed the state of mental health and the support systems (or the lack of support) available in the Philippines. Given the dire situation the country is in, she encouraged that the schools be and catch the symptoms early on. She said that psychosocial preparedness need to be integrated into school and community activities to prepare children to navigate new territories. She also gave several suggestions on how to promote a holistic mental wellness which includes a Gadget Holiday that was well-received by the attendees. Ms. Mary Ann S. Cruz, CEAP Deputy Executive Director, served as Moderator of the Day. 



On the second day of the Summit, Dr. Nelly Z. Limbadan, Chairperson - Clinical Psychology Division, Psychological Association of the Philippines and member of the CEAP AdHoc Committee on Child Protection and Mrs. Cherrie L. Ragunton, a parent representative who is a Life Coach, served as resource persons for the webinar entitled, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child: Home and School partnership in Child Protection.” Speaking for the schools, Dr. Limbadan shared about the psychological component in school preparations, policies, guidelines, and activities that help the home-life condition or situation of both students and parents. She shared how healthy friendships are very important to the child’s development. She also emphasized the importance of establishing meaningful partnerships between the home and the school. Speaking for the home and parents,  Mrs. Ragunton presented what parents are doing to provide maximum learning for their children who are attending school from the home. She some tips on effectively supporting one’s children in setting their goals and achieving them – while making them feel loved by showing respect to their feelings and ideas. During the Open Forum, the resource persons were joined by Ms. Maria Esther C. Monteverde, Student Services Head of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral School in the Diocese of Cubao who shared about some practices in their school that deal with Home and School Partnership. Ms. Kris Lesaca-Saludez of Assistant Principal for Academic Affairs-OIC of the Miriam College Lower School Unit and member of the CEAP Child Protection AdHoc Team served as Moderator of the Day. 



On the third day, two speakers from Ateneo de Davao University graced our Child Protection Summit. Fr. Ulysses S. Cabayao, SJ the Assistant to the Academic Vice-President for Online Education and  Dr. Epifania Melba L. Manapol, Chairperson of its Social Work Department and who is also the President of the National Association for Social Work Education Incorporated served as the resource persons for the webinar, “Protecting the Child in the Global Village”. Fr. Cabayao, presented how the change in the set up to online learning carried with it its share of online risks, hence, prescribing possible interventions to ensure their safety as they do their online learning. Dr. Manappol outlined to the attendees of the proper procedure and approaches in handling and reporting cases, bearing in mind the importance of ensuring that the rights of the child are upheld throughout the process- making the child FEEL protected at all times. The resource persons were joined by Ms. Maria Lycia L. Rivadelo, Vice-Chairperson of the Child Protection Committee of the Colegio de San Agustin-Makati who shared some practices and policies of their school regarding Child Protection. Ms. Ma. Violeta A. Ochave, Head of the Student Development Center of St. Scholastica's Academy of Marikina and a member of the CEAP Child Protection AdHoc Committee served as Moderator of the Day. 



In the Synthesis to the Summit, Ms. Mary Ann Cruz said that moving forward, collaboration & networking seem to be the key in this very challenging task of Child Protection. As an Association of more than 1500 member-schools there is that opportunity to look into stronger partnerships and linkages, with NGOs, the CBCP, and government agencies to protect our students. The AdHoc Committee for Child Protection is also looking into the crafting of a CEAP Child Protection Manual with appendices that deal with 1) enhancing partnerships between the home and the school, 2) maximizing technology for greater participation, 3) capacitating the youth for mental health work, among other materials. 



To end, one can only share the hope that  CEAP President, Sr. Marissa R. Viri, RVM said in her opening message during the Summit, “animated by the Spirit of Communio (a defining characteristic of excellent Catholic schools), let us work together exploring ways to creatively find solutions to the new challenges in Child Protection posed by COVID – 19. May we continue to provide safe spaces for our students as we mold them to become active members of society  and agents of social transformation.”