The Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has encouraged children and the youth to be bold in reporting persons who subject them to sexual exploitation and expose them to pornographic materials and other dangers online so that the perpetrators are arrested and duly punished.
She urged them to take advantage of the various Incident Reporting Points of Contact (PoC) that the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) had set up and to report images and videos of illegal content and other social vices to expose online predators.
“This platform is user-friendly, especially for children, and you are, thus, encouraged to report attacks through whatsapp, email, voice call, SMS and other online channels available on the NCSC website. A dedicated NCSC app can be downloaded from Playstore or Appstore,” she stated.
Mrs Owusu Ekuful made the statement in an address read on her behalf by a Deputy Minister of Communications, Mr Vincent Odotei Sowah, at a forum on Africa Child Online Protection in Accra Monay.
She said, “We hope that the platforms will bridge the gap between children and adult carers and/or the authorities in a safe and secure manner, respecting their privacy but getting the information needed to stop this scourge.”
The forum was held at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra and was jointly organised by the Ministry of Communications and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as part of the National Cyber Security Awareness Month.
The three-day event will draw lessons and best practices on child online protection measures from countries around Africa.
Let’s guide our children
Mrs Owusu Ekuful noted that increasing access to information and communications technology (ICT) for children and the youth was a double-edged sword that wielded the force of both good and evil.
She said while the youth of today were tech-savvy in their quest to explore and learn new things, many were, however, oblivious of the dangers lurking in cyberspace and to which they might unwittingly fall victim.
“When our children who are our future are not guided, they stand a great risk of falling prey to the ills that plague the digital economy since ICT can be a double-edged sword. The protection of children online must, therefore, be fundamental in all our cyber security efforts.
“We must accord the safety of our children online even greater priority than their physical well-being, or at best they should be given the same attention,” she said.
She said the ministry had set in motion a Child Online Protection (COP) initiative with support from relevant organisations, including the ITU and UNICEF, and had also introduced legislative reforms that would ensure that perpetrators of online crimes against children were properly dealt with.
The Project Coordinator of ITU, Ms Ida Jallow, said in order for countries in Africa to benefit fully from the fourth revolution, that is using ICT to digitally transform their economies, it was imperative that they not only built digital skills but also kept the youth safe online.
“We must discuss as African countries the frameworks we need to put in place in order to make the internet experiences as safe and productive as possible for our young ones,” she said.
The National Communications Advisor, Dr Albert Antwi-Boasiako, said the protection of children was integral to digitisation efforts on the continent.
“We have critical roles to play in our respective countries to create the right cyber culture and to expose our children to safe and hygienic practices online,” he said.
Source: Graphic online