Pastoral reminder about ‘venomous virus’ preying on our youth during pandemic

Pastoral reminder about ‘venomous virus’ preying on our youth during pandemic

There is a more dangerous and extremely deadly virus lurking around us aside from Covid-19. They prey on our young people that are restricted to their homes due to coronavirus lockdowns. They take advantage of the situation, with our youth who are preoccupied with the Internet at home. These predators are heartless, motivated by insatiable greed and addiction to their craving of flesh trades.

These are the human traffickers and sexual offenders, the worst and venomous virus on earth, taking every opportunity to raven our youth and even young children who are bored at home and have nothing to do but navigate the internet. These young people wanting to belong or get attention, fall into their cunning and empty promises. Our youths who are either just curious, in crisis, or in search for affirmation get trapped by their sugar coated enticements and false illusions. They are the viruses of our society who use the physical vulnerability and poverty to lure and victimize our people.

We should do everything to protect our children, our youth from these evil doers. Everyone should be vigilant to prevent our children from being unwilling victims. At home, always be observant of your children, especially with the use of the Internet. Be aware of what they are doing. Have time limits with the use of their gadgets. Also, with this stay at home order, stay physically present with the members of the family. Talk to them consistently, have conversations about their friends or what they are undergoing. At home, do something together to develop or discover each other’s talents such as baking, painting or making designs. Introduce to your children your childhood games such as dama, chess or sungka.

To protect the family and to strengthen the society is to safeguard our children, our young people. They are the hope. They are our future. Human trafficking and online sexual exploitation are evil deeds and criminal acts which ruin their future. Their lives are destroyed, and can even lead to a violent death. So it is a call for all of us to protect our children, our youth and prevent them from being victimized.

We should condemn the viruses of human trafficking and online sexual exploitation, do what is necessary to eradicate this worst endemic traffickers and sexual offenders. Be brave enough to report, and to bear witness to these evil deeds. It is only then we can make sure that our youth, our children, are not only socially distant from those human viruses of trafficking and exploitation but we must contain these perpetrators. We must exhaust all legal means to investigate, prosecute and punish them.

Our Church is a mother. A mother speaks and stands for her children, especially for the vulnerable and voiceless children. She speaks to comfort, to console, and to confront those who make them suffer. Our Church as a mother, defends and protects her flock; ensuring to make right what is wrong and to correct them by doing what is best and beneficial to her children. She must see to it that they are truly safe at home.

We will never end up victims but victors over the viruses of trafficking and online sexual exploitation.

Thank you so much and be safe always.

+ Ruperto Cruz Santos
Bishop of Balanga
Vice Chairman, CBCP Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI)