Parents have been urged to allow supervised access of mobile devices and internet services to their children which will help in keeping them up-to-date with technological advancement while protecting them from its harm.
According to a report on evidence of Online Child Sexual Abuse in Kenya dubbed ‘Disrupting Harm’ released in 2021, the most popular device to access the Internet among 12-17 years was mobile at 99 per cent, while the most popular place to access the Internet is a cyber.
Speaking during the Launch of the Day of African Child at the Garissa University, Cabinet Secretary for Labour and social protection Florence Bore in her speech read by the Secretary of Administration Benson Mugo said that the internet has provided invaluable opportunities for the realization of children’s fundamental rights and freedoms such as the right to education, freedom of expression, and freedom of association, among others.
The CS further notes that while access to the internet has ensured that some children still have access to these rights in the event of emergencies, such as the COVID 19, there are risks when children are exposed to prolonged unsupervised access to the internet online like cyberbullying and exposure to harmful content.
“The Internet also presents risks for the infringement of children’s rights. An increase in internet usage comes with a bigger risk of children being susceptible to sexual exploitation online. Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (OCSEA) includes the use of children in pornographic activities, performances, and materials (child sexual abuse material), sexual extortion, online grooming, and exposure of children to adult pornography,” Bore said.
“Children’s privacy can also be compromised in the online environment due to a number of practices such as the sharing of children’s personal information by children or adults; data collection and processing by public institutions, businesses, and other organizations; and criminal activities such as identity theft,” she added.
The CS said that the role played by parents and caregivers in child protection activities is very important and there is a need to set up programmes geared towards sensitizing them on those roles.
“All actors including the community and children themselves need to be sensitized on how to prevent, respond to, and report incidents of child abuse to the relevant authorities including calling toll-free line Child Helpline 116,” she said.
She called for concerted efforts towards support for victims of online child abuse, support in rehabilitation programmes for offenders, and ensuring awareness and dissemination of information and messaging.
By Erick Kyalo