Let’s Prioritise Safety of Children Online – Child Online Africa
ChildOnline Africa, an online safety advocate organization is predicting doom for Ghana and Africa’s security in the next few years if they failed to safeguard children in the online digital space.
The Executive Director, Awo Aidam Amenyah, explained that if measures are not put in place to check the current issues pertaining to online activities, it will have dire implications on the country and the sub-region in the next few years.
She said children are being groomed on internet fraud, while others are vulnerable to sexual exploitations which could lead to suicides and other negative activities online.
“We have some of them teaming up with sakawa, when they are groomed they become 419 people and stuff like that, and our security as a country is at stake, and how will such people even come and take over from us, so it has serious implications for the person, for families, for the society, and for the country at large.
“Children in the digital space are vulnerable to internet problems such as sexual grooming and exploitation, creation and distribution of child abuse imageries, online dissemination of child trafficking, bullying content and conduct, terrorism, tribalism, inappropriate content, among others,” she added.
According to Internet World Stats, there has been a 11,532% of internet growth between 2000-2019 in Africa, with a total of 204,304,118 people subscribing to Facebook as of December 2018, and Ghana seeing a 37,902% internet growth between 2000-2019, with 11,400,732 internet users in the country as of June 2019.
With the rapid growth of internet users in the country and the sub region, there are growing concerns that children representation will also increase, and they can easily fall victims to the rising digital issues confronting the world.
In a bid to reduce child online risks and promote Child online safety, Child Online Africa and AF Academy have organised a training workshop in Accra for some selected journalists to enlighten them on the rights of the child online, equip journalists with the latest advocacy skills for vulnerable people online and to highlight the need for child protection online.
Amenyah, who spoke to Daily Mail GH at the sidelines of the programme, also expressed worry over lack of reporting centers in the country where the public can easily make complaints about online misconducts for appropriate action to be taken.
“As I speak to you now, I cannot say that report here and seek redress because it is not there. I cannot say that report here and get counselling because it is not there, and those are things that we need to have to be sure that it safeguards are working. So I will wish that we work faster than we are doing now,” she lamented.
She said currently the only available institution which is the CID office, is not even easily accessible to the public to lodge a complaint.
According to Amenyah, even though children have the rights to information and are not supposed to be prevented from accessing information online, they need to be guided in order not to fall victim to any online misconducts.
“Everything has the good and bad side to it, right? So same apply to the space. In my submission what I meant to say is that children have the right to information, but the information should not be detrimental to their growth and development,” she said.
She added: “It is explicitly cited in the UN convention on the right of the child for which Ghana is a signatory, so obviously we are bound to go by it, and you cannot at this stage keep children from accessing information, they will become dumb”.
She tasked government to expedite action on issues concerning child online safety and provide information in the public domain where parents are well informed to detect child security risks online.
Amenyah advised the public to collectively work to protect children who are in the online digital space, and also not limit the protection to what they see physically because there is also an imaginary world where children are also abused there in order to holistically safeguard children online.
Source: Daily Mail GH