Sexual abuse of minors is a growing problem globally and is far more prevalent than people realize. And as you might suspect, children in poverty are especially vulnerable to this kind of abuse. According to UNICEF statistics from 2014, sexual abuse affects more than 120 million children worldwide. The majority of these children are abused by people they know or those who have a connection to their family. And in recent years the Internet has amplified the problem. According to recent data provided by the Internet Watch Foundation, a webpage displays images of children being sexually abused every seven minutes. However, our coworkers in the Philippines, Pakistan, Spain, and Greece are coming alongside victims of sexual abuse and trafficking in an effort to restore them as image bearers of Christ.
One of the nations where we are currently battling child exploitation is the Philippines. Despite prevailing laws and government programs to prevent sexual abuse and exploitation of children in the country, cases continue to increase at an alarming rate. On top of that, online abuse of children in the Philippines is on the rise. A study conducted by UNICEF revealed that eight of ten Filipino children are in danger of being bullied or sexually abused online. As of 2014, online child abuse had become the leading form of cybercrime in the Philippines. In 2016 UNICEF dubbed the Philippines as the global epicenter of the livestream sexual abuse trade.
AMG’s Bahay Silungan Shelter was established just over a year ago to protect exploited children and to help them heal, as we work to restore their lives in Jesus’ name. Many of the children at the shelter have either never enrolled in school or have fallen far behind their peers academically. Most come to us with little hope. At this point we have rescued 13 girls ranging in age from eight to 16 years old through our existing shelter. With God working through our program, two of the girls have been reintegrated back into their families. In our first year of operation we have seen God do amazing things in the lives of these children, and as a result they are starting to dream again. Some of the girls in our care would like to become teachers, and one hopes to become a lawyer so she can defend other children victimized by sexual abuse and exploitation.
In combatting the sexual abuse and exploitation of children, AMG’s Bahay Silungan Shelter works in partnership with local government agencies and non-profit organizations to access needed resources. Our comprehensive, Bible-centered program employs a holistic model we refer to as RAISE, which includes:
Restoration through counseling and psychological interventions
Awareness raising for children, adults and communities on how to detect, report and refer cases of child abuse and exploitation
Integration back to the family (if possible)
In partnership with donors just like you, AMG seeks to meet all the basic physical needs of the children in our care, while also gently guiding their spiritual development. We have a full time Christian social worker on staff who provides counseling and guidance to the children, while helping them develop life skills, enrolling them in school and helping them catch up academically. The social worker also assists legal representatives who prosecute perpetrators so they can’t harm other children. Throughout our program, the love of Jesus is clearly shown and communicated.
This expansion initiative will allow us to grow our services to help up to forty children who have been victimized by exploitation and sexual abuse. The total cost of this much-needed project is $349,943. One of the organizations we partner with in the Philippines has already provided $275,000 toward the goal. That leaves $74,943 remaining to be raised.
You and I can make a real difference in the lives of children who have been sexually abused and exploited. These children need you. Will you prayerfully invest in our shelter expansion and change a child’s future in Jesus’ name? If not you, who?