Abuse can be a vicious cycle, leaving many people, including children, trapped, alone, and forced to fend for themselves. Acute poverty and regional instability are the two greatest risk factors for abuse. And, in a developing country such as the Philippines, the likelihood of child abuse and neglect is higher because families are typically more exposed to poverty and other associated issues.
With the rising cost of food, high inflation rates, and widespread poverty, countless Filipino children have been left helpless, hungry, and trapped. Their homes may not be safe, yet many stay because they have nowhere else to go. Some turn to living on the streets and others are sold into slavery by their own families or are kidnapped and forced into illicit drug rings and sex work. Tragically, some may even seek out this work as a necessary evil to feed and clothe themselves.
The Philippines faces major hurdles in overcoming widespread child abuse, including rampant poverty and its status as a source country for human traffickers worldwide. But here at MercyWorks, we are fighting every day to protect and save the lives of children and their families facing these horrendous circumstances.
The Scope of Child Abuse in the Philippines
In a country of 104.9 million, 21.6 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line. In rural areas, that increases to 36 percent. An estimated 8 in 10 children experience some form of abuse, while more than 1 in 10 children are engaged in child labor, and an estimated 60,000-100,000 children are trafficked into prostitution.
According to a 2016 study by the Council for the Welfare of Children and the United Nations Children's Fund physical violence and psychological violence are the most common forms of child abuse, and most frequently happen in the home. About 13.7 percent of children aged 13 to 18 years old were sexually abused at home while growing up, and the majority of cases involving abuse at home targeted boys.
The study found that in the Philippines, “thousands of children are robbed of their childhood and suffer lifelong developmental challenges as a result of violence.” And goes on to explain, “[the] impacts include mental and physical health disorders, anxiety, depression and health-risk behaviors including smoking, alcoholism, drug abuse, and engagement in high-risk sexual activity.”
These at-risk youth need a supportive, caring environment to help them heal from the wounds of the childhood that was stolen from them.
How the Sunflower Center Helps Children in the Philippines
Physical, sexual, and other forms of abuse are horrendous circumstances for any child of any age to endure — but there is hope. Rescuing these children and reuniting them with their families is of the utmost importance. But to truly heal, these children also need therapeutic intervention to help them deal with and overcome the trauma they have experienced.
The Sunflower Center is a professional ministry of counselors and social workers who are on a mission to end sexual and physical abuse in the Philippines and offer therapy to abuse victims. We also partner with governmental centers and nonprofits to restore children to their families, and our halfway home offers shelter to abused and neglected boys who need a place of protection and recovery. Our missionaries work tirelessly to protect and save the lives of thousands of Filipino children. By saving the lives of these children and healing the wounds of abuse, we can break the cycle and prevent these tragedies from happening in the future.
Join us as we fight for the lives of these children.
We are on a mission to save 100 children from sexual and physical trauma — and we need your support. Through your generosity, our missionaries are able to go out to every corner of the world and bring Jesus Christ to the poorest, the most vulnerable, and those in greatest need. Your prayers and support can help bring an end to violence against children in the Philippines, help them heal from the trauma they have endured, and provide them with a better life.
We invite you to support the work of the Sunflower Center and join us this Easter in our mission to save lives. Thank you for bringing the hope and joy of Jesus’ Resurrection to the children of the Philippines!