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Parents, guardians urged to guide children online activities

About 21, 700 children were exploited online in 2022, with apparent cases of the possession, manufacture and distribution of child sexual abuse materials, including pornography being distributed in the country.

The mass use of internet has amplified the production and circulation of child sexual abuse materials and increased incidences of online grooming for sexual abuse, sextortion, sexting including livestreaming of child sexual abuse and cyberbullying.

Learners from Moi Secondary School in Nakuru County sing while playing a Keyboard at Nakuru ASK show ground, during the Safer Internet Day celebrations. Photo Anne Sabuni

The remarks were made by the Principal Secretary (PS),  State Department for Social Protection and Senior Citizen Affairs, Joseph Motari, during celebrations to mark the Safer Internet Day, held at the  Nakuru ASK Showground, Tuesday.

Noting that predators pounced on unsuspecting children online, Motari urged parents and guardians to be present in the lives of their children and engage them in activities beyond the internet, as they were better placed to guide their children on their online activities instead of leaving them unattended.

The PS also called on children rights’ defenders to pool resources towards safeguarding children against risks and threats posed by internet harm, while reaping from numerous opportunities that the internet offered for their learning and growth.

The occasion also marked the launching of National Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (OCSEA), aimed at guiding professionals handling the complex and evolving nature of online child sexual exploitation. These professionals/stakeholders include law enforcement officers, Child Protection workers, social service providers and health workers.

Motari said the SOPs provided a comprehensive framework for identifying, reporting, and responding to child online abuse thereby giving a standardized approach to child protection across board.

“The government prioritises safeguarding children both online and offline and in line with this, my department has developed a comprehensive multi-sectoral plan of action to tackle online child sexual exploitation and abuse,” he said.

The PS noted that six percent of children have shared their pictures online and 14 percent have met people they encountered online.

Nakuru County Commissioner, Loyford Kibaara, noted that the internet superhighway being installed across the country was a greater opportunity that Kenyans should exploit for economic productivity and not leave children to be corrupted.

“It is the role of the parents to have time with their children and monitor what they do on the internet. Our children are still growing and cannot choose wisely what to see and not to see,” Kibaara noted, regretting the recent killings, which were orchestrated by social media platforms.

Kibaara noted that lack of close monitoring of the children by busy parents exposed them to cyberbullying.

By Anne Sabuni and Veronica Ngina

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