Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Hon. Doreen Sioka opening the conference officially
|Story by George Sanzila
Windhoek - The Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Hon. Doreen Sioka says government and its partners are hard at work to mitigate the increasing threat of online child exploitation and abuse. She said this has been done through training of service providers such as social workers, Police and the sensitization of both parents and children on the dangers of online exploitation and counselling to those already affected.
Hon. Sioka said this when she officially opened the two-day National Conference on Child Online Protection organized by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare with the support of UNICEF.
The aim of the conference that is also attended by Members of Parliament is to keep stock of achievements and challenges emanating from a framework for action against these cybercrimes adopted during a similar conference held in 2016.
She noted that despite unlimited opportunities that comes with ICT, many potential risks exist that may harm the welfare of children. “ICT is still critical to child development as it provides them with opportunities to research on school work and communicate with friends. At the same time, the world has seen how ICT can be exploited to allow for a new sphere of violence and abuse against children in the form of online child sexual exploitation and abuse, online grooming and cyber bullying”, said the Minister.
A recent study by the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) and the centre for Justice and Crime Prevention (CJCP) reveals that 68% of children between the ages of 13 and 17 had seen sexual content they did not wish to see, 31% had been sent sexually explicit images of people they didn’t know, 29% had seen sexual content including children while over 63% had seen disturbing of violent images.
The Minister who urged the public to report incidences of online child abuse through existing platforms further implored parents to get involved in their children’s personal lives. “These disturbing trends are worsened by the fact that children’s access to the internet occur within the home with little or no parental supervision. This lack of supervision leads to children experiencing cyberbullying, online stalking, exposure to pornographic images, grooming for the purpose of exploitation as well as sexting. The public is urged to report such cases to the Police or make use of the Online Reporting Portal that is hosted by Life Line/Child Line Namibia”, appealed Sioka.
The conference ends tomorrow (19/09/2019).