Home > Counties > Parents advised to restrict children from unsafe online sites

Parents advised to restrict children from unsafe online sites

Parents have been warned against allowing their children unrestricted access to online sites to avoid exposing them to cyber bullying.

Nyeri County Children Officer Kung’u Mwaniki says online sites including social media platforms such as tik tok, Facebook and twitter have become favourite platforms for pedophiles who end up luring minors into a host of vices including getting hooked into weird sexual escapades.

Mwaniki notes that many youths who have been initiated into antisocial practices such as gay and pornography have been lured into the vice through social sites.

He also disclosed that the majority of the culprits normally hook the minors while posing as innocent online friends before recruiting them into the vices.

Once initiated into the practice, the cyber bullies often employ the sites to extort money as ransom from the victim’s parents.

“Online sites have now become the next frontier in child sexual exploitation and abuse often coming in various forms such as twitter, Facebook and tik tok. Criminals are now targeting children through such sites and actually recruiting them into gay pride, gang crimes and identity theft. What begins as a cozy online friendship quickly changes into a blackmail syndicate where criminals extort money from parents while using the minor as the bargaining chip,” he says.

Mwaniki therefore advised parents and guardians to keep vigil over their children while at home especially as schools countrywide prepare to close this week for the first term holiday break.

The officer has also asked parents to block sites they believe are unsafe to their children and also monitor them while accessing the safe ones.

“To deal with this serious issue of protecting our children from cyber bullying and other harmful attacks it is incumbent for parents to keep their eyes on their children. Children should never be left unattended. In addition, parents should ensure they block any unsafe online site and besides ensuring that even the safe ones are only accessed in an open place. To put it more succinctly, let parents watch over their children,” states Mwaniki.

According to United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), skipping school is one common effect of cyberbullying that can affect the mental health of children who turn to substances like alcohol and drugs or violent behaviours to deal with their psychological and physical pain.

The aftermath of cyberbullying on mental health can vary depending on the medium through which it happens with bullying via text messaging or through pictures or videos on social media platforms being cited as very harmful for youngsters.

Mr Mwaniki has also challenged religious leaders to take a central role in the fight against alcoholism and substance abuse in the society warning that the government will never be in a position to eradicate the vice singlehandedly.

The officer has also cited the increasing proliferation of drugs into the county normally packaged as candy bars and later sold to school going children as an emerging societal threat that needs to be addressed before it gets out of hand.

“Religious leaders should now change tact and stop preaching the old time gospel of going to heaven and speak out on issues that are currently confronting society. They need to play a bigger role of offering leadership in terms of showing the society the way in dealing with the ills and vices that threaten the future of our children. Finally, the church also needs to come up with mechanisms of rehabilitation for those already hooked up by alcoholism and substance abuse and assisting them to reform and be integrated into the society,” he has urged.

In December last year while commenting on the milestones that had been achieved in safeguarding children against various forms of violence such as physical, mental and sexual in Nyeri, he warned that much ground remained uncovered.

He had noted that acts of violence against children were still rampant in Nyeri right from their homes and even in hallowed sanctums of worship.

“Violence against children in Nyeri is prevalent and the vice is happening right from their homes, schools and even in places of worship. We have launched the 2019-2023 Violence against Children Report and we have sensitized stakeholders so that we are able to deal with this problem. Every stockholder has a role to play. We need to create safe havens for our children,” said Mwanki.

The officer had also welcomed the move by the Ministry of Education calling for the abolition of boarding schools for learners in Grade 1 to 9 saying the move will enable parents to mentor their children before joining senior school.

He had noted that while the decision may not have augured well for many parents and education stakeholders, the move remains the most ideal in nurturing children before they can be left on their own.

Late last year Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang announced that the government was planning to scrap boarding schools for students in Grades 1 to 9.

Speaking during the official opening ceremony of the 18th Kenya Primary School Heads Association (KEPSHA) in Mombasa on December 7, Dr Kipsang said that the move will allow children to engage better with their parents.

“As we move forward, day schooling will be the direction because that is the only way we shall be able to engage with our children. The first years of our learning between grade 1 and 9, the direction the government will be taking is day schooling,” he said.

“We need to start socializing ourselves so that we need to be with our children and the only way for that to happen is to be in the day school environment,” he added.

By Samuel Maina

Leave a Reply