The Ministry of Communications has set up a 27-member steering committee to provide a national framework for online child protection by working with other stakeholders to create mechanisms that would prevent the abuse of children on the Internet by adults.
The committee, chaired by the Chief of Agomeda, Nene Nagai Kassa VIII, and whose members were drawn from state institutions, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), civil society organisations (CSOs), professional bodies and the security services, would be required to create mechanisms to safeguard the children from bad content on the Internet.
At the event held to inaugurate the steering committee in Accra yesterday, the Minister of Communications, Dr Edward Omane-Boamah, said the issue of child abuse on the Internet was a global one that required a holistic approach to deal with.
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“We require different inputs from different stakeholders to be able to manage the issue of child protection on the Internet, because no single entity can stand alone to win the battle,” he said.
He observed that the task of the committee to provide a national mechanism to protect children online ought to be anchored on a review of the legal frameworks, building of the capacity of stakeholders and co-operation with international agencies.
Dr Omane-Boamah urged the committee to incorporate education and awareness creation for stakeholders in order to equip them to monitor the use of the Internet by children.
“There is a lot of indoctrination, mobilisation for crime and terrorism through the use of the Internet. This puts children at risk of being exposed to bad content. So, the best way to protect these children is for parents and other educators to play a role to monitor what children do on the Internet,” he said.
In his presentation, the Manager of the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), a child online protection organisation, Mr Eric Akumiah, said the increasing use of the Internet to abuse children called for a rapid response system to be put in place to provide safeguards.
He said it was in light of this that CERT had, since its establishment in 2014 by the Ministry of Communications, played a coordinating role to provide stakeholders with alert on cybercrime, especially those which bordered on children.
Mr Akumiah said CERT would continue to collaborate with law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders.
The Chief Executive Officer of J Initiative, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Mrs Awo Aidam Amenyah, said the use of social media by children was a fertile platform for abuse.
She said the content that was generated on those media contained pornographic materials that posed a great threat to the future of young people.
She said such media were also a source for generating inaccurate and non-factual information that could ruin the future of children.
She indicated that the organisation was working in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications to establish a call centre for parents to call for assistance.
The chairman of the committee, Nene Kassa VIII, asked the other members of the committee to co-operate and bring their expertise to bear in the line of duty so that the committee would come up with better strategies to address the situation.
He called on the media to support the dissemination of information on child protection issues.