COMMENTARY

Helping children at risk

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THE Department of Education (DepEd) should be lauded for being in the forefront of
helping children in conflict with the law.

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The department showed a lot of heart when it issued guidelines on the management of children at risk and children in conflict with the law. It showed compassion and concern when it went beyond its primary mandate of educating the youth. Through DepEd Order No. 18, schools have been made more aware of the need to protect juveniles and to stop discrimination of all kinds.

Undersecretary for Legal and Legislative Affairs Alberto Muyot led a workshop on the guidelines and procedures on the management of children facing problems that was attended by guidance councilors and education program supervisors. Discussed during the two-day seminar were psycho-social interventions, restorative justice strategies and practices and incident reporting and monitoring guidelines.

Muyot noted that children should be protected from early pregnancy, prostitution, drug use, smoking, alcoholism, violence, and suicide — behaviors which according to the
University of the Philippines Population Institute are risky and exploitive.

“We have to understand that adolescents are naturally curious. Everything adults do, they would want to try without thinking of the consequences; that is how they are and that is completely normal. This kind of curiosity—reckless as it may be—is part of their development. We cannot hinder them from their self-discovery, but it is our duty to minimize the risks and to protect them from harm,” Muyot said.

As every school guidance counselor knows, there are children who need help and guidance more than others. The DepEd guidelines, which follow the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, will go a long way in helping children who have committed offenses under the law or those who have taken up vices that not only endanger them but others as well.
Schools should not only teach children the academics. They should also ensure that students are provided assistance and guidance for whatever problems they may be facing.

A troubled child would have difficulty blending in or absorbing his or her lessons. Since schools are considered the second home of children, it is only fitting that teachers and school officials should look after their general welfare.

(Author is Master Teacher II of Sawang Elementary School
Abulug, Cagayan)

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