The internet is a wonderful place for information, entertainment, and social networking for kids and adults alike. But with the proliferation of fake news, explicit content, and cyber bullying, it’s not a very safe space, even for adults.
The web is an even more dangerous place for children in low-income countries like the Philippines where access to low-cost internet and mobile devices is widespread and parental control and adult supervision is lax due to various socio-economic factors.
In fact, the country is considered one of the world’s top hot spots for online child sexual exploitation among 10-14 year-olds.
This is the situation that has prompted Terre de Hommes-Netherlands, an international non-governmental organization advocating and working for the prevention of child exploitation in 17 countries including the Philippines, to develop a revolutionary new digital app that’s totally safe and secure for young users including children.
Called Voice for Change, the app was co-created with victims of child sexual exploitation and those vulnerable to abuse together with children advocates. Research and development took over one year, from March 2020 to June 2021, to ensure that the platform is truly responsive to the needs of children for support and assistance as well as to carry out the advocacy against sexual exploitation.
Voice for Change has features that are similar to those in popular social networking apps. Users can post status updates, connect to other users and engage in discussions, and get access to online resources for information.
The main difference is in the app’s strict security and privacy provisions. Sign up requires approval by the Voice for Change administration and goes through a screening process.
Logging in requires a mobile number and a one-time password sent via SMS. To provide further protection, no personally identifiable information including photos is shared among users.
In VFC, users can find relevant and verified information about different issues relevant to children advocacies. They can also genuinely voice opinions and engage in healthy discussions without fear of toxic perspectives and language.
It is a truly safe space that comes with a directory of organizations and agencies that users can contact to report concerns and even actual cases of child exploitation and abuse.
Here’s a closer look at the Voice for Change features.
- Share your thoughts
Got a high grade in school or achieved a personal goal? Freely share your thoughts in a private and secure way.
- Engage in discussions
Start a conversation with like-minded people about concerns relevant to protection of children and similar issues. Or chime in on other topics that interest you.
- Get Help
Feeling down, need guidance or just want to talk to someone? Reach out to individuals and organizations that can offer professional help.
- Verified information
No one wants to read or share fake news. Get only verified information on relevant topics.
- Report an Incident
Have you or someone you know experienced child abuse and similar issues? Report the incident safely.
- Secure and Private
Sign up requests go through a screening process. Log in with a mobile number and a one-time password will be sent to you by SMS. No personally identifiable information is shared
The Voice for Change app may be downloaded in the Google Play store. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.app.voiceforchange
iPhone and Google Chrome users can use the web-based app instead.
More information about Voice for Change can be viewed at www.wearevoiceforchange.org.