Over 25% of the country’s internet users are made up of unsupervised children between the ages of 12 and 17 years, however, with the upsurge in use of mobile telephony and other hand held devices, children are exposed to an increasing number of online predators.
Moved by the increasing number of Internet usage in the country, in August 2014, the Communication Authority of Kenya launched its initial Child Online Protection Campaign dubbed ‘BE THE COP’ in collaboration with various stakeholders including United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Plan International, Department of Children Services, Google, GSMA and local mobile service providers; Safaricom, Airtel and Orange.
Following the launch, CA executed a three-month media and awareness campaign to identify risks and vulneralabilities faced by children and youth online and discussed tips on how to guide and protect them online.
This week, the CA has taken to county governments to spread the word further. The Communications Authority of Kenya in conjunction with the Meru County Government held its Kikao Kikuu Forum where it called on parents, teachers and community leaders to champion the cause of protecting children as they engage with technology.
As much as the internet has insurmountable benefits, children who make around 54% of the entire population, are vulnerable to cyber bullying, online fraud, addiction, violence, racism, sexual harassment and exposure to child abuse material, among others.
Speaking at the forum, Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), Chairman, Mr. Ngene Gituku said, “CA has been undertaking sensitization campaigns on the need to protect children online. We are now moving into the next phase to facilitate structures that will help safeguard children on the net here in Kenya. Apart from Regulations, we will initiate clear frameworks for internet use and channels that can help track and respond to matters on online child protection. This is role that calls for the involvement of Government, parents, education practitioners, religious leaders and all stakeholders so as to fight cybercrimes.”
Some of the initiatives already put in place in response to child online protection in Kenya include Childline Kenya manages the national Child Help Line (CHL) 116, a 24-hr national emergency helpline for children, the Chukua Hatua initiative and The Kenya Computer Incident Response Team (KE-CIRT) Coordination Centre which both collaborate in creating awareness on cyber security best practice.
The second phase of the Child Online Protection Campaign will entail the implementation of strategic activities suc legislative framework, capacity building, research, local and international cooperation as well as public awareness to develop skills and knowledge in this area.