Child Online Africa, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) yesterday launched this year’s Safer Internet Day (SID) with a call on Ghanaians to work together to protect children within the digital space.
The Executive Director of the NGO, Mrs Awo Aidam Amenyah, who made the call, noted that the protection of children was a shared responsibility, thus the need for all to get on board and protect children.
“In our view, it is difficult to hold anyone person or institution accountable for the protection of children and young people online.
But we believe that the protection of our children within the digital space is and remains a shared responsibility.
We all have a role to play, therefore, let us come “Together for a better Internet,” she said.
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This year’s SID event will take place concurrently in over 300 communities in 200 districts across the country in partnership with the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and the Department of Children.
The event, Mrs Aidam said, was expected to reach more than 30,000 children and young people across the country.
“Recently, we got to know through reports in the media that a number of our young girls have been abducted.
In some cases, the girls have been missing for five months and still counting.
From the various accounts, it has become clear some of the abductions may have been technologically facilitated.
This calls for a proactive and dedicated action to promote self-awareness and vigilance, particularly among young people to become conscious of their own safety and security,” she said.
The SID, she said, was one of the strategic opportunities the NGO had to initiate conversation with children and young people regarding their responsible use of the technology space.
The Internet, and for that matter, the online world, she said was very vast, borderless and difficult to control, and, therefore, the organisation’s only best option were education and awareness creation among children and young people to empower them to access the online world in a responsible manner.
“This is one of the prime reasons why Child Online Africa decided to intensify and expand its child online safety advocacy work beyond the borders of Ghana into the rest of Africa as a whole.
The SID is a landmark campaign delivered locally through a number of Safer Internet Centres (in Europe) and Safer Internet Day Committees (beyond Europe), and it is backed by the Better Internet for Kids’ line of work.
The day is marked in February of each year to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially among children and young people across the world,” the executive director added.
Mrs Aidam said although the campaign originally started in Europe back in 2004, it had grown over the years and celebrated in more than 140 countries last year alone.
“With the support of some of you from government, private sector, law enforcement, civil society etc., we have been on this journey for five years and in our fifth year we are extending ourselves into other countries with the social gospel of Internet safety.
“We have branded it #SIDAfrica because this continent has its unique culture and context when it comes to the conversation around responsible use of ICTs.
Therefore, it will be appropriate to design an awareness forum to reflect and suit the continent’s peculiar needs”.
A Deputy Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Mr Samuel Asare Akuamoah, expressed the hope that the media would give the organisation the necessary support in the course of the programme.
“I believe that when we all come to evaluate the outcomes of the programme, we would see some benefits,” he said.
For his part, the Advocacy Manager at the World Vision International, Mr Gregory Dery, said the organisation would continue to partner Child Online Africa to scale up its activities in reaching out to more children.