Strong laws and child-friendly judges are needed to crack down on child abuse in the Philippines, a Catholic priest has said. While a large number of Filipino children are sexually abused, only a few perpetrators are convicted, the priest added.

In a commentary published by UCA News, Father Shay Cullen, an Irish priest, said that as more well trained female judges are appointed to family courts, more perpetrators of child sexual abuse will be convicted in the Philippines.

Father Cullen said Filipino children who are neglected by their families are the most vulnerable to abuse. “Highly impressionable children, usually those neglected and unloved by their parents and wanting attention, gifts and what they think is love are the most vulnerable,” he said.

Father Cullen said many children were traumatized because of abuse and part of the healing process is to bring to justice those who abused them. He said abused children were made to feel shame and guilt by the abuser. They were also made to feel that the abuse was their fault.

“They need help, strong laws and child-friendly judges,” he said.