Dr. Sandra S. Hernandez is a Child Protection Specialist at the Child Protection Unit of the University of the Philippines Manila – Philippine General Hospital where she conducts medico-legal examination and sees to the health care maintenance of survivors of abuse and neglect. She is the Associate Director for Training at the Child Protection Network Foundation, Inc., a non-government organization that seeks to increase the accessibility of services for abused children and provide continuing education and training opportunities to child protection professionals. Dr. Hernandez was born and raised in Manila. She received her undergraduate education from the University of the Philippines Manila with a degree in Public Health. She earned a medical degree cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas and did residency training in Pediatrics at the University of Santo Tomas Hospital where she went on to become chief resident. She did fellowship training in Ambulatory Pediatrics and obtained a Certificate in Child Protection Specialty at the University of the Philippines, Manila – Philippine General Hospital. She is currently pursuing a master degree in Public Health. Aside from responding to the needs of abused and neglected children, Dr. Hernandez is interested in a preventive approach to child maltreatment. She has worked on research on the disclosure patterns of sexually abused Filipino children seen in a multidisciplinary unit for child abuse and neglect and on the situation of child maltreatment prevention programs, policies and resources and its implementation among local communities in the Philippines.
Child Maltreatment Prevention in the Philippines: A Situationer
The study aims to gather information regarding the situation of child maltreatment as well as relevant primary prevention policies, programs and resources in the Philippines. With decentralized governance, how local communities implement their child maltreatment prevention programs will also be looked into. Key informant interviews with national policy makers and program managers were conducted. Stakeholders from three local government units were also interviewed. Relevant secondary documents were reviewed. The Philippines has a good number of laws, policies and programs on child protection, albeit with limited funds and trained personnel. A number of these laws and policies impact on the prevention of child maltreatment although very few are directly related to primary prevention. There was a disparity between what is required by national laws and policies; and actual implementation of programs on child protection. With the devolution of health and social services, implementation and support for programs depended on the interests and priorities of local executives. This is further compounded by the fact that there is no reliable data on child maltreatment in the country. Recommendations include conducting a national prevalence study on child maltreatment; working with communities to increase their readiness and capacity to implement a primary prevention program on child maltreatment, and identifying a central body with the legal mandate to implement the national plan to end violence against children.