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Parents advised to monitor children’s online activities

A rights group dealing with the welfare of children in Kenya has urged parents to take control and monitor the online content children go through in the digital space.
Child Fund Kenya’s Children Coordinator, David Mariba, said that cases of online child sexual exploitation and abuse are on the rise.

Mombasa journalists posing for a group photo session after completion of two-day workshop on Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. Photo by Andrew Hinga

Speaking with KNA, Mariba warned that children are currently being exposed to online sexual exploitation and pornography through digital devices easily provided to them at home by their guardians.
He said that the digital space has been actively seen to have content that is not child-friendly, thus urging parents to be vigilant in protecting children from sex predators that are hunting minors via the internet.
 “It is the responsibility of a parent to monitor what the child is doing online and guide the child on the right content to watch on the internet in line with the child’s age group,” he said.
He noted that several organisations dealing with the welfare of children have come out to sensitise parents on the causes and effects of online sexual exploitation, urging them to come out and report incidents for assistance.
“If society knows that one can report to authorities whenever a child has been sexually abused via the internet, we can easily protect our children,” he said.
Mariba said technology should be key to building the capacity of children to deal with various sexual violations without destroying their lives.
“Smartphones, if not correctly used, can be an instrument for destroying the lives of our younger generation because pornography is easily accessible. Parents should also monitor the behaviour of helpers who spend most of the time with children, as they have a big role in the values they instill in these kids,” he added.
In a bid to ensure that society is informed on the dangers of child online sexual exploitation and abuse, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, through the Directorate of Children’s Service and Child Fund Kenya, has trained Mombasa journalists on effective identification and reporting on Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (OCSEA).
A group of journalists from various media houses in Mombasa were taken through a two-day workshop on the types of online sexual exploitation and how society can be informed and protect children from harm.
At the same time, Child Fund, in partnership with Life Skills Promoters and ChildLine Kenya, is implementing a Community Linkages for Internet Child Safety (CLICS) project in Nairobi, Kiambu, Kilfi, and Mombasa counties.
The project aims to strengthen capacity, networks, and systems from the national to the grassroots level to make the internet safe for children in the country.
Journalists who participated in the workshop were grateful for the opportunity to learn about an area that has been quite tricky to report on.

Ruth Masita of Pwani FM said she was thrilled as it was her first training on online child sexual exploitation and abuse.

“From this training, I have learned a lot, and I can use my media house to inform and sensitise parents on the importance of monitoring the online content children consume,” said Masita.

By Chari Suche and Sadik Hassan

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