In 2018, the Philippine chapter of ChildFund–an international NGO that works with local partner organizations, governments, corporations, and individuals to help create safe environments for children to thrive–decided to make a ‘small bet’ to reduce the incidence of sexual exploitation of children in Dipolog City.
This ‘bet’ is a program prototype that will leverage the city’s private sector and help the local government push for policy reforms and install a comprehensive reporting and referral mechanism for potential cases. As such, it is meant to accomplish a short list of items for testing:
- A call to action to combat sexual exploitation of children
- A set of advocacy materials for parents, teachers, and tourism frontliners
- Leveraged resources from private sectors to support the advocacy initiatives to fight sexual exploitation of children
- Sponsorship-based programming
- Documentation of the 3-month initiative with evaluation on prototype viability
The idea sprung from an often side-lined reality: that many FIlipino women and children are driven into the trade out of desperation. Adults and children from rural areas of Southern Philippines are sent to major urban centers like Metro Manila, but also some parts of Mindanao. Child victims are said to be fleeing from poverty and violence in their homes.
ChildFund’s model, which was tested in Dipolog City, had the potential to become the basis for a regular, national programming if the partner cities can meet or reach the ideal conditions for stakeholder collaboration. One of the many requisites to success is having an LGU that is willing to lock in child protection as one of its priorities. While there is already a national law that protects children from exploitation (RA 7610), enforcement is weak.
At the communications front, this project should increase the general public’s awareness of the issue and help enable those at the frontline of the tourism industry to take action and deter trafficking cases.
A definitive call-to-action has to be made in education, information, and communication materials. But here lies the challenge–how do we build a campaign that encourages compliance to laws against CSEC and promotes a culture of child protection.
The Methodology and Messages
Evident collaborated with ChildFund and its network of allies–schools, a parents’ organization, youth representatives, local tourism leaders and hotel owners, as well as the Dipolog City Council for the Protection of Children with the objective of developing an effective communication initiative to Imbue a sense of responsibility to the people of Dipolog and highlight the ethical and operational roles of business and enterprise owners as part of a community that protects children.
The allies were branded Child Protection Partners. Evident developed both the branding and the IEC materials that suited them based on what role they play and what exposure they have in the tourism industry. Below are the raw CTAs:
- For the general public: Let’s keep Dipilog’s stature as a child-friendly city.
- For those in the tourism industry: Complying to laws against the sexual exploitation of children will not penalize businesses. It will only help Dipolog become a city that’s friendly to a bigger number of tourists.
Below is a sample of the IEC material for the tourism frontliners: reception, housekeeping, and bar staff: