PHILIPPINES: Salesian Anti-Cyberbullying Conference Provides Education to 200 Youth
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries partnered with UNICEF, the Child Protection Network (CPN) and other child safety organizations to organize a two-day anti-cyberbullying conference attended by 200 youth and 100 teachers from 100 schools in Cebu, an island province in the Philippines consisting of a main island and 167 surrounding islands and islets.
The success of the conference was made possible through the support of the Don Bosco Formation Center’s Pastoral Communication students from Talisay City, the Commission on Youth Ministry, the Salesian Youth Movement and FIS Social Communications.
The conference theme was “Ctrl Shift Del: Cyber Teens Responsible Leaders” and utilized commands typically available on a computer keyboard to convey the main conference message of “Teaching the youth to shift their views, control their lives and delete the negativity in social media.” As part of the conference, youth drafted and signed a manifesto against cyber-bullying.
“We see that cyber-bullying is an inhumane, intolerable act and if left unattended, will eventually damage more people and teens like us. However, we, as Cyber Teens Responsible Leaders, can be advocates for its eradication,” the manifesto read.
The manifesto also contained the young leaders’ commitment to advocacy on how to use social media appropriately and effectively.
“We believe that our advocacy begins with defining our boundaries on proper media usage anchored on the values of respect, empathy, discipline, sincerity and compassion. We likewise believe that such advocacy empowers young people like us in accepting our differences regardless of physical attributes, race, social status, economic standing, belief or religion,” the manifesto read.
It went on to say: “Therefore, we commit to be catalysts in an enlightened youth movement that boldly stands up against cyberbullying, raises awareness and educates our fellow teenagers on the responsible use of ICTs and lends voice to those who don’t have the courage to seek help and speak out.”
During the conference, a special Twitter hashtag, #CTRLYouthCon, was launched and conference messages reached nearly 30,000 people during the week following the event.
“Salesian missionaries aim to provide education and tools to help youth lead safe, happy and productive lives,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “This conference covered a very important topic for youth today.”
Having access to education is a critical step in overcoming poverty. In the Philippines, drop-out rates double as children reach secondary school and there are more than 11 million out-of-school youth, according to UNICEF. Almost a quarter of the country’s population (including a large percentage of children) live in poverty.
Salesian missionaries in the country offer a variety of educational and social development programs for youth, many with an emphasis on recreation and sports activities. The goal is to provide the opportunities necessary to gain an education and break the cycle of poverty as well as the skills to secure and retain long-term employment.
UNICEF – Philippines