But along with these opportunities are the inherent risks posed by the net.A growing number of youths in the Philippines are being drawn into a dangerous world of sexual exploitation by foreigners they meet online.In order to surf online when European and American men are online, they need to be in the internet cafes while other children of school age are asleep. Eventually, they drop out of school.” Recognising the harm being inflicted on so many teenagers, UNICEF is supporting initiatives around the Philippines to deal with the problem.At the Florencio Urot National High School in Cebu, teacher Loreto Roca, has seen a number of his pupils drop out of class. A number of internet cafés have agreed to remove their private booths after one of these initiatives put pressure on them to do so.UNICEF is also promoting a charter which lays down a code of conduct for internet cafes to follow to make them safer for children.Mickey Tiangco runs one such internet café on the outskirts of Manila.Close by the new internet cafes that have been springing up in local cities, are the offices of remittance companies, where the teenagers can be paid instantly by their overseas clients.
At the age of 15, Angel began connecting with foreign men in chat rooms. “They told me ‘Angel, it’s really nice to chat with the foreign guys because you can earn money.’” For several hours every day, Angel is online with men from North America and Europe.“They tell me that, ‘I will send you money if you show me your body, your naked body,’ and yes I will show it, and they will send me money.” The world he and his friends inhabit is the seedy collection of internet cafes, some of them with private cubicles, where teenagers can ‘perform’ on web-cams for foreign customers.