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State develops manual to combat threat of online child sexual exploitation

The government has initiated the development of a standardized national training manual to guide measures to curb the growing threat of online child sexual exploitation and abuse.

The manual will address key issues and strategic areas including legal frameworks in child online protection, prevention, response, capacity building, monitoring and evaluation.

According to the Director of Children Services, Ms. Josephine Oguye, Kenya leads its African peers in internet penetration and growth of users, which makes it easier for children to be exposed to online threats and vulnerabilities.

Oguye said that a study carried out in Kenya and neighboring countries by Terre des Hommes in 2018, revealed that 54 percent of children had seen their age mates in pornographic materials online.

The research also showed that 10 percent of children have been approached online to share their sexualized images with most of the offenders being people known to them.

Oguye noted that due to revamped efforts by the government and human rights groups to protect children online, the perpetrators have gone to the dark web where it’s impossible to trace them.

She called for concerted efforts by all key players, duty bearers and stakeholders in the children sector to curb the gaping and looming danger to the vulnerable children.

She said the manual will guide the government and sector players on enhancing regulations of cybercafé operations, supervision and monitoring of internet service providers in the country.

The Director said it will also inform efforts to build the technical capacity on investigations and create more awareness among children, caregivers and parents on the risks.

Oguye made the remarks in Naivasha during the opening of a workshop for a technical working group to develop a national social service workforce manual on child sexual exploitation and abuse.

According to data collected by Children’s Kenya from 2018 – 2022 in the counties of Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa and Nakuru, a total 6,114 cases of abuse and violence on children were recorded.

The data shows girls are the most affected and highly prone to online grooming, sextortion and child sexual abuse materials online.

According to Ms Eunice Kilundo, the Child Protection and Advocacy Manager at Child Fund, sexual exploitation and abuse incidences have increased sharply within the cyberspace.

Kilundo said through a joint partnership with sector players, they have launched the Safe-Clicks projects that aims to protect and end violence against children.

She said the three-year project has been rolled out in four counties of Nairobi, Kiambu, Mombasa and Kilifi due to their increased cases of child trafficking, commercial exploitation and child sex tourism.

Kilundo said the project aims to strengthen community based child protection mechanisms by sensitizing caregivers on the harm and threats to children online and the response measures.

She at the same time called for more budgetary allocations to actualize full implementation of the national action plan to tackle online child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Kilundo hailed the enactment of the Children’s Act (2022) which provides enhanced legal provisions to safeguard the rights of children.

By Erastus Gichohi


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