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Prioritise child online policy

BY: Daily Graphic
File photo
File photo

Cybersecurity experts, policy makers and civil society organisations recently met in Accra to deliberate on an appropriate policy for a safer environment on the Internet for children and young people in the country.

The policy, the National Child Online Protection (COP) Framework, will provide the administrative, regulatory, institutional and legal support to protect children when using the Internet.

It was said at the meeting that more than a third of children between the ages of 12 and 17 had access to the Internet through the use of mobile phones.

Additionally, it was revealed that a study by UNICEF also showed that children online encountered sexual content, hurtful comments, fraud or violence, which were upsetting to them.

It was to ensure a sanitised Internet environment for children to learn and skill up appropriately for the 21st century that the meeting was held. The COP framework being deliberated on is based on international best practices and standards that tackle all forms of Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (OCSEA).

The framework has also been revised to integrate the new Cybersecurity Act, 2020 (Act 1038) which regulates cybersecurity activities.

Currently at the validation stage, inputs, comments and suggestions from stakeholders will be included in the COP framework for onward submission to the Cabinet for approval.

The Cyber Security Authority (CSA), with support from UNESCO, Child Rights International (CRI) and other agencies, is championing this worthy cause.

Indeed, it is trite to say that the Internet is now an integral part of our lives, and as adults endeavour to gain mastery over its use, they must definitely not leave any Ghanaian child behind.

The Internet has proved to be a useful tool for education, entertainment, the learning of new skills and the building of the appropriate networks.

However, excesses online sometimes lead to some people going into depression and also having suicidal tendencies.

The Daily Graphic congratulates the CSA, UNESCO, the CRI and all other partners for this effort.

Indeed, the CSA is living up to its responsibility of ensuring that no child is exploited online, bullied or pressurised under various provisions in its Act 1038.

For instance, Section 62 of the act states: “A person shall not take or permit to be taken an indecent image or photograph of a child” for publication online or storage.

The Daily Graphic hopes that the deliberations and comments, when concluded, will be quickly sent to the Cabinet and given approval.

We also call on all partners to ensure that the COP policy is known properly by all in Ghana. They must sensitise all nationwide to the policy for it to achieve its purposes.

We also call on the government to prioritise this effort and make available all that is needed to ensure a safe Internet environment for the use of children.

While we wait for the COP, parents must endeavour to ensure that children’s experiences online are safe.

Indeed, they must monitor children’s use of the Internet and take advantage of some of the restrictions provided by social media platforms when their kids are online in order not to expose them to danger.

Particularly, the Daily Graphic proposes that the National Commission for Civic Education takes up the challenge to sensitise all children to their safety on the web.