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'Make-IT- Safe' Campaign Underway

Oct 9, 2008, 5:25 AM | Article By: Nfamara Jawneh

A global campaign aimed at ensuring that children and young people are safe and protected from online and in new information technologies (IT) is underway. The 'make-IT-safe' campaign by child rights organisations in 65 countries is also aimed at making the IT industry take responsibility for ensuring that its products and services are safe for children and young people. Parents, teachers, governments and children all have their parts to play. But only the IT industry can provide the technical and financial resources to ensure the safety of children and young people, says a media dispatch from the Child Protection Alliance (CPA).It continues, "We all know that the Internet and other interactive communications technologies can be hugely beneficial to children and young people for their educational development, and as a source of enjoyment". The release however stresses some risks that children and young people are exposed to through these technologies.

These risks include: an explosion in the production and distribution of child pornography online, resulting sexual abuse of children to make pornography circulated online, sexual predators using chat rooms and messaging to contact and 'groom' children for sexual abuse, often with tragic consequences. Children being encouraged to post online personal details, photos and videos of themselves, exposing children and young people to abusive and damaging materials online, whether legal or illegal.

Children and young people are especially at risk as leading users of all kinds of online and interactive media- internet, chat rooms, news groups, web cams, mobile phones, and online and offline gaming.

According to CPA National Co-ordinator, Mr. Njundu Drammeh, some governments, law enforcement agencies and IT companies, are acting to protect children online. While such efforts are commendable, much more can be done to protect children.He stressed that The IT industry and governments around the world need to act now to ensure children and young people enjoy the benefits of new information technologies without risk of harm. The IT need to collaborate at home and abroad on standards, protocols and working tools to help parents, teachers and children to stay safe online. The IT companies, he said, also need to fund wide-ranging public education and awareness campaigns, in co-operation with government and community organisations.

Governments, he added, need to adopt policies to ensure the IT industry makes it products and services safe for children and young people. Law enforcement agencies and judiciary need to co-operate internationally to stop the exploitation and abuse of children through new information technologies, and to ensure proper care and protection for children harmed by such abuse.