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Samburu parents urged to prioritize online child safety

Parents in Samburu County have been urged to emphasize on online child protection by monitoring television programs and websites that their children visit to ensure they are not exploited online.

Speaking in Swari village in Samburu east sub-county during the celebrations of The Day of the African Child, Peter Mwangi from the Directorate of Children Services in Samburu said that there are so many vices on digital platforms, including pornography, bad gaming, and exposure to extremist groups, among others, that can harm children by swaying their young minds.

“It is the responsibility of all parents and guardians to take charge of online child protection at home by guiding and sensitizing their children about online vices and also supervising the online content they are consuming and blocking out explicit material. Parents should also alert authorities to suspicious gaming outlets and cyber cafés.” He said.

Due to high illiteracy levels in Samburu County, Mwangi called on stakeholders such as teachers, religious leaders, police, chiefs, and the county government to constantly sensitize children on the dangers of online abuse.

“The majority of parents in Samburu County are illiterate; therefore, they cannot monitor their children’s online activities. This is where all the stakeholders must be involved in protecting our children from online exploitation and abuse,” he said.

Mwangi noted that the government has the Online Child Sexual Exploration and Abuse (OCSEA) Act, which has guidelines to ensure children are protected from online abuse and exploitation.

At the same time, Mwangi told parents to enroll all children in school and stop retrogressive cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child marriages.

He cautioned parents against breaching the Children’s Act 2022, which guarantees the right to education for all children in the country.

“There is a law that guarantees the right to education and protection for children, and failure to enroll your children in school is punishable by law,” he said.

Further, Mwangi lauded the intervention of non-state actors in Samburu County, who complement the government’s efforts in addressing children’s issues and ensuring child protection issues are implemented.

“The Samburu community is transforming gradually as far as child protection is concerned, this is through the government’s efforts and the non-state actors that complement the work of the government to implement the Children’s Act 2022 to the letter.” Mwangi noted.

Area MP Jackson Lekumontare, however, noted that poverty and insecurity in the county were the major challenges forcing children to stay out of school.

“Due to the ongoing drought, families have lost cattle, which is their sole source of livelihood, making it difficult for parents to enroll their children in school. Insecurity, on the other hand, produces orphans and displaces families, and education is not given priority in such circumstances,” the MP noted.

This year’s theme for the Day of the African Child was ‘The Rights of The Child in The Digital Environment’.

By Robert Githu

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