Isaiah, a boy from (Kiambu / Nairobi) spoke during a Children’s Online Safety awareness session organised by our partner in Kenya, Stepping Up Global. The event was held on 20th October 2021, as part of the “Together We Can End Child Poverty Worldwide” Campaign, and as a follow-up to the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (IDEP), 17th October 2021 commemorations.
“I have learnt that the internet can be a dangerous world. People can take advantage of you and therefore you should not post a picture of you or things happening in your family.” – Isaiah, 12 years.
Divided in two groups of ages between 6 to 9 and 10 to 13, the children were led in identifying and discussing about how they can avoid any form of violence and abuse in the digital spaces. They were guided through basic privacy practices in order to ensure their safety, including being advised to avoid sharing personal information like passwords, photos, their full name, their school name, home address and date of birth.
Recalling their experience in 2020, one child participants expressed, “I would wait until my parents come from work in the evening to use their phone to log into Google-classroom to attend my class. I was not (very) conversant with online spaces and one day I clicked on a link that advertised a prize of 1000 USD if you could join in and gamble. My parents intervened and advised me to shun such spaces online.” – Teddy, 12 years.
Mr. Samuel Ng’ang’a, the session tutor, advised the children participants to always seek their parent’s or caregiver’s permission and guidance whenever they are online. He cautioned them against visiting suspicious websites and webpages, including those that often lure visitors with cash prizes or presents. To curb this, children were advised to limit spending unnecessary time on the internet.
“Bad people are out there and are ready to take advantage of children online and harm them in various ways like kidnapping, sexual exploitation, cyber bullying. ” Mr Samuel Ng’ang’a.
Ms. Hannah Ngugi, founder of Stepping Up Global lauded the children for showing willingness to learn about online child safety. She emphasized that it is through such sessions that children would be empowered with information on online safety. She added that it was important for children to learn about policies and guidelines like the SDGs, so that they could remain safe online and be champions of sustainable development.
The session gathering 50 children, aimed to respond to increased online activity by children, in the wake of intensified digital learning during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis across the globe. This, coupled with ever-growing online exploitation and abuse of children, created a crux of concern that demanded immediate action. Furthermore, Stepping Up Global organised the awareness session to Goal 16.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aims to end all forms of abuse, exploitation, torture and violence against children.
At Arigatou International – End Child Poverty, we view the “Together We Can End Child Poverty Worldwide” Campaign as an opportunity to raise awareness and take action towards overcoming child poverty and promote the wellbeing of children, including their online safety.